Peter Doran on the 97%.

Since I haven’t written about the 97% for some time, I thought I would post this video of Peter Doran’s TEDx talk about Bringing opinions on climate change closer to reality. There are a couple of things I found interesting about the talk. He mentions his own work (Doran & Zimmerman 2009) in which they surveyed people about their views with respect to global warming. When it came to actual experts, about 97-98% agreed that we are warming and that it is mostly us (human activity is a significant contributing factor). This is essentially the same result that Cook et al. (2013) obtained when they rated abstracts of papers published in the last 20 years, and asked the authors to self-rate their papers.

The other thing he said was that he knew that the view that there wasn’t a consensus amongst scientists was wrong. This is something that also seemed patently obvious to me even before I started engaging in this topic. Every climate scientist I’ve ever spoken to about this also agrees: there is clearly a strong consensus amongst scientists that we are warming, and that it is mostly us. Also, virtually all studies that have looked at this have got the same basic answer; a vast majority of scientists/abstracts/papers endorse this consensus. However, this doesn’t stop some from trying very hard to discredit these studies. There’s a problem though, you can’t discredit these studies by showing that they’re wrong, because they aren’t. If someone redid a study like this and got a very different answer, they would almost certainly have made a mistake (see Richard Tol’s attempt for an example of this #FreeTheTol300). If they redid it and got the same answer, they’d have confirmed the original study’s results.

So, what to do? Well you can try to show that the authors of these studies committed some kind of fraud or research misconduct. An issue here is that this is only really relevant if it was intentional, since simply making a mistake is not fraudulent, and getting the right answer by chance, seems a little unlikely. Let’s think of the logic though. A group of people who are probably well aware that their results will be controversial in some circles, decide that they will do a fraudulent study to get a result that noone with any sense would dispute, rather than doing it properly in the first place. Seems odd given that they should have been well aware of how even the slightest issue would be jumped on by those who would find this result inconvenient. The alternative, is that those who do find this result inconvenient will do anything to discredit the result (that almost everyone knows to be roughly correct) including accusing the authors of fraud and misconduct. I’ll leave it as an exercise for reader to decide which seems more plausible.

Peter Doran’s talk is below. It’s pretty good, although – given recent events – the suggestion at the end is maybe a little unfortunate.

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500 Responses to Peter Doran on the 97%.

  1. If you poll the general public whether climate change is man-made, the answers will be to a large extend for the question: do you want to do something about mitigation?

    Maybe someone here knows the link, I think I have heard the claim that the more you frame the question as a purely scientific issue to higher the percentage is and the more you frame it as an identify issue, are you a good Republican, the lower the percentage that says to accept man-made climate change is.

    For what is is worth, I am kinda a climate scientist and at least know a lot of them around the world, and a few percent of scientists not accepting that it is warming and that we are the main reason is about as high as you will get. I have not seen any convincing arguments against the surveys, but I am at least sure that the answer is in the right ball park.

    Some arguments are especially unconvincing. #FreeTheTol300

  2. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ‘Human activity is a significant contributing factor’ is not the same as ‘It’s mostly us.’

    The phrasing of the survey was queried at the time and Doran’s answers were unconvincing. He cited Merriam Webster as proof that ‘major’ and ‘significant’ are synonyms and ignored the implications of the full phrase, ‘significant contributing factor’, which can apply to a factor that is minor but important.

    (You appear to think (a) that fraud and misconduct are the only possible faults a paper can have and (b) that getting the right answer proves that a paper was competent. Have I misread you?)

  3. Vinny,

    ‘Human activity is a significant contributing factor’ is not the same as ‘It’s mostly us.’

    I wondered if someone would make that argument. Do you really think “significant contributing factor” could be consistent with “maybe even less than 50%”? I don’t think it is. Whether or not one can make an argument that the framing of the question wasn’t ideal, the consensus position is that we’re warming and it’s mostly us. If you want to be pedantic, more than 50% of the warming since 1950 is anthropogenic which I would argue is consistent with “human activity is a significant contributing factor”. If you think otherwise, that’s fine because it’s not really a point worth arguing about. Whether or not the consensus studies did ask the right questions doesn’t change that the consensus position is that we’re warming and it is mostly us.

    You appear to think (a) that fraud and misconduct are the only possible faults a paper can have and (b) that getting the right answer proves that a paper was competent. Have I misread you?

    No, what I’m suggesting is that if those critical of the consensus studies were to say “you know that paper that probably got about the right answer; well, we found some errors in their method” then people would go “okay, so what?” Turning it into accusations of fraud/misconduct would discredit it much more than simply showing some errors. Of course, I’m not suggesting that those critical of these studies are actually explicitly doing that, simply suggesting that it would be a more effective strategy than simply showing a mistake.

  4. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ATTP, yes ‘significant contributing factor’ is consistent with ‘more than 50% of the warming since 1950 is anthropogenic’ but it’s also consistent with ‘10% of the warming…’ or ‘110% of the warming…’ The point is, logic and language don’t allow you to assume that people who said that ‘human activity’ (which incidentally would have to include forestry, landfill gases etc. as well as fossil fuels) is a ‘significant contributing factor’ in post-1800 warming thought that it’s a factor that accounts for more than half of it. Most of them probably did. But the paper asked the wrong question if that is what it was trying to find out. Waving that away because it got the ‘right answer’ seems a bit unscientific to me.

  5. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Scrub the ‘110% of the warming’. I don’t think the question is consistent with that. I was trying to be too fair, as is my wont.

  6. Vinny,

    Waving that away because it got the ‘right answer’ seems a bit unscientific to me.

    That isn’t what I said. I said I don’t care if it asked the wrong question. There is a strong consensus whether consensus studies asked the right questions or not. Bear in mind, that such studies would be completely unnecessary if people stopped disputing the existence of a consensus in the first place. Think of it this way. A group of ill-informed people continually state that there is no consensus. Others then try to illustrate that this first group is wrong. Maybe they do it well, maybe they don’t. However, focusing on whether or not they did the study properly/well when it was entirely motivated by those who keep repeating things that are almost certainly not correct, seems to be focusing on the wrong thing.

    The point is, logic and language don’t allow you to assume that people who said that ‘human activity’ (which incidentally would have to include forestry, landfill gases etc. as well as fossil fuels) is a ‘significant contributing factor’ in post-1800 warming thought that it’s a factor that accounts for more than half of it. Most of them probably did.

    Yes, most probably did.

  7. jsam says:

    You’d think an honest denier would conduct a rigorous scientific survey, publish and disprove the consensus.

    Or not. :-))

    #freethetol300

  8. Joshua says:

    Oh boy. Another “consensus” argument!

    I think that Vinny does have a point here about the difference between “significant’ and “most”….but yes, what I quote below is he most important aspect of what Vinny is saying:

    “….Most of them probably did…”

    Or is it the “significant” aspect? 🙂

    Anyway, I always say that Richard Tol is the goto on this question:

    “Published papers that seek to test what caused the climate change over the last century and half, almost unanimously find that humans played a dominant role.”

  9. Joshua,
    Well, given that I said “I wondered if someone would make that argument” above suggests I was at least aware that such an argument could be made, although it is hard to envisage – as Vinny himself seems to accept – that anyone answering the question interpreted it as “some role, possibly minor” rather than “the most single significant factor in our recent warming”.

    Oh boy. Another “consensus” argument!

    Yes, things have been reasonably quiet, so I thought it worth livening things up before the Christmas break 🙂

  10. Vinny Burgoo says:

    I see. So the survey itself doesn’t matter because its existence is due to people who would have given the wrong answer if the survey had asked the right question. Is that a fair summary?

    My brain hurts.

    Does Doran touch on any of the criticisms of the survey in the video? I don’t have time to watch it at the moment.

  11. Yes, significant and most is not the same. That does not matter as long as Doran wrote in his paper that the studied the question whether the human contribution is significant and did not claim to have studied the question whether the human contribution is more than 50%.

    Theoretically significant could mean statistically significant, which with enough data could mean any practically insignificant amount. In this specific case it surely could not mean 10%. That would be a temperature increase of 0.1°C since 1880. That would be fully in the normal range of natural variability. No one would confidently claim such a small change to be man made.

    The temperature increase since 1880 was about 0.7°C, if I recall correctly, before the IPCC mentioned with confidence that climate change was man made. The IPCC, which the likes of Vinny Burgoo like to refer to as alarmists. They waited a bit longer than 0.1°C.

  12. Vinny,

    I see. So the survey itself doesn’t matter because its existence is due to people who would have given the wrong answer if the survey had asked the right question. Is that a fair summary?

    You really are putting words in my mouth. The people who answered the question (especially those are are experts) probably answered based on the interpretation that most would regard as reasonable (i.e., mostly us, or more than 50% us). Therefore, the survey result is probably a reasonable representation of the level of consensus. My point was simply that even if the question could have been framed in a better way, does not change that there is a consensus which exists independently of survey attempting to quantify it. Furthermore, even if one can find reasons to criticise these studies, it doesn’t change that the reason they exist is because of those who keep asserting that there is not a consensus.

    Does Doran touch on any of the criticisms of the survey in the video? I don’t have time to watch it at the moment.

    No, I don’t think he does.

  13. Brigitte says:

    Victor,
    Sorry to be coming late to this. Regarding the question in your very first comment… were you looking for this paper perhaps?
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2459057
    Brigitte

  14. When asked to answer surveys I mostly decline. When I answer I usually leave several questions unanswered. In both cases the reason is that I think that my sincere answer would be interpreted to mean the opposite of what I think, because the questions are formulated as they are, i.e. taken literally they mean something else than in loose interpretation.

    Similar problems come up with these surveys. Strictly logically Vinny is right, but emphasizing that may result in wrong conclusions.

    I’m fully convinced that a big enough majority of climate scientists think that most of the warming since 1950s is anthropogenic. I don’t know, what is the size of the minority that consider it plausible that less than 50% is anthropogenic and I don’t care. It’s good enough to be convinced that the share is small. Loosely worded surveys do not add to my belief, they have no additional informational value. People, who think that there isn’t wide consensus even on a weaker statement are not affected by this kind of surveys either.

  15. Pekka,

    I’m fully convinced that a big enough majority of climate scientists think that most of the warming since 1950s is anthropogenic. I don’t know, what is the size of the minority that consider it plausible that less than 50% is anthropogenic and I don’t care. It’s good enough to be convinced that the share is small.

    Yes, I agree, which was roughly the point I was making about not really caring if the survey question was ideal or not.

    Loosely worded surveys do not add to my belief, they have no additional informational value. People, who think that there isn’t wide consensus even on a weaker statement are not affected by this kind of surveys either.

    Yes, this is probably true. However, there is a debate within the social sciences (I think, Brigitte might know more than me about this) about whether or not consensus messaging is effective or not. Some think it is and provide evidence that they think shows this, others seem to think otherwise.

  16. dana1981 says:

    However, there is a debate within the social sciences (I think, Brigitte might know more than me about this) about whether or not consensus messaging is effective or not.

    There is a debate, but it’s pretty one-sided. The “consensus messaging is effective” side has experimental supporting evidence, while the “no it’s not” side really doesn’t. The latter can be summed up by Dan Kahan’s argument that if consensus messaging were effective, it would have worked by now, since it’s been tried for a decade or more. However, that argument neglects the fact that there’s been an intense anti-consensus messaging effort happening at the same time.

    It’s kind of like saying that exercise isn’t an effective way to lose weight when you’re also eating cake and ice cream every day.

  17. Dana,

    However, that argument neglects the fact that there’s been an intense anti-consensus messaging effort happening at the same time.

    Yes, that seems self-evidently true.

    It’s kind of like saying that exercise isn’t an effective way to lose weight when you’re also eating cake and ice cream every day.

    Blast, you’re ruining my excuse for not bothering to go out for a run 😉

  18. Joshua says:

    Dana –

    => ” The “consensus messaging is effective” side has experimental supporting evidence, while the “no it’s not” side really doesn’t.”

    Do you have any real-world evidence demonstrating the effect?

    Along the same lines.

    ==> ” However, that argument neglects the fact that there’s been an intense anti-consensus messaging effort happening at the same time.”

    All the more reason why real-world evidence is needed to draw any conclusions. What evidence do you have that consensus messaging doesn’t make anti-consensus messaging effective?

    ==> ” The latter can be summed up by Dan Kahan’s argument…”

    I’d say that your summary of his argument is a pretty poor one. IMO, your summary leaves out the more interesting aspects of his argument.

  19. Joshua,
    There’s John Cook’s Guardian article that discusses some of this.

  20. Willard says:

    > logic and language don’t allow you

    Language allows you lots of things, including saying things like “logic and language allow you.”

    Just like any other successful institution, logic and language grow.

  21. Joshua says:

    ==> “It’s kind of like saying that exercise isn’t an effective way to lose weight when you’re also eating cake and ice cream every day. ”

    To extend the analogy, if someone is more likely to eat cake and ice cream because they exercised that day, then is the exercise effective for losing weight?

    IMO – consensus messaging, and anti-consensus messaging, have little real world (differential) effect. For the most part, they both become part of sameolsameol, used as evidence for people to confirm their biases. I think that Kahan over-estimates the counter-effectiveness of consensus messaging, just as some “realists” over-estimate the effectiveness of it. IMO, ideological orientation (which leads people to use evidence such as consensus and anti-consensus messaging in predictable ways to confirm biases) and short-term weather phenomena are both far more influential.

    IMO, it would be more effective to focus on what we know about how people reason about risk in the face of uncertainty – in particular w/r/t issues where assessing risk requires a long-term view. IMO, consensus-squabbling is more about identity politics than anything else.

  22. Willard,

    logic and language don’t allow you

    I almost responded to Vinny’s inclusion of the above in a similar way to you, so maybe I can almost do a Willard. I won’t hold back in future 🙂

    Joshua,
    My two cents worth. As far as I’m concerned, consensus messaging is trying to say something that is regarded by those who understand the topic as self-evidently true, therefore hard to argue against it on any kind of ethical ground (i.e., how can trying to present something that is clearly true, the wrong thing to do). However, if someone could show that it is ineffective, damages communication and damages our ability to effectively communicate, that would be more interesting, but I haven’t seen any real evidence to suggest that this is actually true. My impression is that this is – at the moment at least – an argument between people who have different views on what works and who want to undermine the alternative.

    Having said that, I’m actually unaware of anyone who is on the consensus messaging side arguing against what others regard as effective. If anything, they seem to suggest that we should be using many strategies, with consensus messaging being one of them. So, as it stands, I’m rather unsympathetic to those who criticise consensus messaging because it appears more petty than anything else. Of course, if someone could actually present evidence that consensus messaging does more harm than good, I’d be willing to be convinced.

  23. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Re: your 4:34…

    I’ve read about, I think, most of the evidence that Dana has discussed, and none of it, as far as I know, are real-world based. I’m not convinced that consensus messaging about a highly polarized issue – like climate change – might not be effective, but nor would I be convinced that it is effective without real-world, longitudinal data – something hard to come by because of the difficulty of creating such empirical conditions. In the meantime, I think that there is an “opportunity cost” in not focusing on efforts that will increase the quality of the dialog.

  24. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Re: your 4:51.

    I agree with all of that. I’m not arguing that it is significantly ineffective or counterproductive, only that I don’t see solid evidence that it is effective. And while I think that there might be opportunity cost, I don’t mean to suggest that I think people who advocate consensus messaging are limiting themselves to that approach.

    In no way do I think that the “skeptical” anti-consensus messaging is anything other than nonsense.

    And I am critical of those in the “realist” camp who spend time criticizing consensus messaging as significantly counterproductive – because I’m not impressed with their evidence showing a counterproductive effect. I would put Kahan in a different category; while I think he overestimates a counterproductive effect, I also think that he brings to the table a very useful approach to gathering related evidence.

  25. Willard says:

    > he brings to the table a very useful approach to gathering related evidence.

    Evidence is overrated, especially when we can settle all these things using language and logic.

    Growth goes beyond any evidence we will ever be able to collect anyway.

  26. Joshua,

    while I think he overestimates a counterproductive effect, I also think that he brings to the table a very useful approach to gathering related evidence.

    I should probably put a bit of effort into understanding Dan Kahan’s work, since I don’t really. There are only so many hours in the day, though 🙂

  27. Joshua says:

    His posts are incredibly dense – very time consuming to give them their just due.

  28. Steve Bloom says:

    Stop whining, Joshua. There’s less to Kahan than meets the eye.

  29. BBD says:

    I too find Kahan less than compelling. Whereas ATTPs remarks above are clear and represent (as I understand it) the actual position.

  30. Joseph says:

    I am waiting for “consensus skeptics” to explain to me why almost every major scientific organization in the world basically accepts the consensus position Why would almost every industrialized nation in the world consider AGW to be a problem, if there were no consensus? You would think that if the consensus was not real, more would speak out against the mainstream position, but all you have is tiny minority on the skeptical side.

  31. Joseph says:

    I should have said more “scientists” would speak out.

  32. dana1981 says:

    The evidence that consensus messaging works and is important is discussed and cited in Cook et al. (2013), which is conveniently open-access.

    Joshua says,

    your summary leaves out the more interesting aspects of [Kahan’s] argument.

    I’m curious what those aspects are. I think he’s claimed consensus messaging is polarizing, but I’ve seen no supporting evidence to that effect. And again the data demonstrate otherwise.

    Not only do the data clearly support consensus messaging, but IMO it’s pretty obvious “common sense”. People commonly defer to the experts, climate scientists are the most-trusted source on climate science, and the average American thinks there is no consensus. The logic of consensus messaging is pretty clear.

    The counter-argument would be that cultural biases are what’s preventing people from accepting the consensus (perhaps that’s the “more interesting aspect” of Kahan’s argument). That’s only part of the story, because liberals badly underestimate the consensus as well. As ATTP has said, consensus messaging isn’t the end-all, be-all, but it’s one very effective tool.

  33. Joseph,

    I am waiting for “consensus skeptics” to explain to me why almost every major scientific organization in the world basically accepts the consensus position Why would almost every industrialized nation in the world consider AGW to be a problem, if there were no consensus?

    Indeed, and if you suggest that claiming there is no consensus, despite this apparent over-whelming agreement, indicates that they think there’s a massive conspiracy, they get really upset.

  34. Steve Bloom says:

    It’s a truism that the difficulty of bringing about change scales with the quantity of oxen being gored. I would be more interested in Kahan if he would focus on the process by which change on difficult issues does happen.

  35. Joseph says:

    ATTP, the consensus position might be wrong, but people shouldn’t be in denial that it exists. And as a lay person my confidence in the validity of the science is increased by there being a consensus. To me science is done in the journals and papers and if we see findings that undermine the consensus position everyone will know about it. It won’t be undermined by a few skeptics throwing barbs from the peanut gallery.

  36. Joseph,

    ATTP, the consensus position might be wrong, but people shouldn’t be in denial that it exists.

    Precisely. Nothing wrong with arguing that the consensus might be wrong (although, some actual evidence that this might be true, would be useful if doing so) but arguing that there isn’t one seems to be denying reality.

  37. Willard says:

    > I would be more interested in Kahan if he would focus on the process by which change on difficult issues does happen.

    Start here:

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2014/6/27/what-se-florida-can-teach-us-about-the-political-science-of.html

    Should we await SteveB’s contributions on this matter to be more interested in what he says?

  38. Willard says:

    > I think he’s claimed consensus messaging is polarizing, but I’ve seen no supporting evidence to that effect.

    Start here:

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2013/7/31/motivated-system-2-reasoning-experimental-evidence-its-signi.html

    Two for the price of one.

  39. Willard,
    Maybe I’m not reading it carefully enough, but where does that indicate that consensus messaging is polarizing?

  40. Steve Bloom says:

    In which Willard neglects the distinction between “focus” (“the center of interest or activity” per teh google) and “ever.” ESL is a constant struggle.

    Actually, Willard, I do have some experience-based thoughts on that point, which both you and Joshua do not. But this blog isn’t a very good place to lay them out, is it?

    I did re-read the Kahan post just now but stopped when I got to “the toxic aura of tribal contempt(.)” Makes you want to trust his analysis, doesn’t it?

  41. Also, from what I’m reading of Kahan’s ideas, he keeps talking about “acceptance of risk”. Surely if that is what he is focusing on, then isn’t he focusing on something that isn’t quite equivalent/relevant to consensus messaging? In it’s simplest form, consensus messaging is simply about getting people to accept that there is a consensus about a particular scientific topic. It isn’t specifically about convincing people to accept that some kind of risk exists, simply to accept the scientific position.

  42. Willard says:

    > I do have some experience-based thoughts on that point, which both you and Joshua do not. But this blog isn’t a very good place to lay them out, is it?

    If the criteria is teh “focus,” whatever that means, I don’t see why not. SteveB’s “focus” is elsewhere:

    https://psychologies.co.uk/family/playground-politics-for-adults.html

    Nice weasel word to hide a tacit agreement, BTW.

  43. Steve Bloom says:

    I’m extremely uninterested in Calvinball with you, Willard.

  44. Florinator says:

    When it came to actual experts, about 97-98% agreed that we are warming and that it is mostly us (human activity is a significant contributing factor). This is essentially the same result that Cook et al. (2013) obtained when they rated abstracts of papers published in the last 20 years, and asked the authors to self-rate their papers.

    Hmm…

    The IPCC position (humans causing most global warming) was represented in our categories 1 and 7, which include papers that explicitly endorse or reject/minimize human-caused global warming, and also quantify the human contribution. Among the relatively few abstracts (75 in total) falling in these two categories, 65 (87%) endorsed the consensus view.

    As noted above, when we perform this calculation, the consensus position that humans are the main cause of global warming is endorsed in 87% of abstracts and 96% of full papers.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/97-percent-consensus-robust.htm

  45. Willard says:

    Not wishing to play ClimateBall is a splendid reason to excuse oneself from contributing experience-based thoughts.

    Playground politics is the best way to insure that one does not play ClimateBall.

    Unless SteveB meant “with you” as he meant “focus.”

  46. Florinator,
    From the abstract of the paper,

    Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.

    If you want to argue about what I meant by the word most you can do so by yourself.

  47. dana1981 says:

    Willard,
    Maybe I’m not reading it carefully enough, but where does that indicate that consensus messaging is polarizing?

    Ditto. That post doesn’t address consensus messaging at all. This one does, and my summary is accurate.

  48. Florinator says:

    Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.

    Hmm…

    As noted above, when we perform this calculation, the consensus position that humans are the main cause of global warming is endorsed in 87% of abstracts

  49. Isn’t this a nice issue. Each of us feels free to keep on believing in own conclusions or prejudices undisturbed of what some social scientists may have concluded.

  50. Florinator,
    Are you going to actually construct an argument, or are you just going to post quotes and go “Hmmmm”?

  51. Florinator says:

    No argument. Just interested the numbers are different.

  52. Brigitte, you are not late at all. Yes, it sounds as if that is the original source of the claim I had heard.

    Climate Science Communication and the Measurement Problem (Dan M. Kahan)

    Abstract: This paper examines the science-of-science-communication measurement problem. In its simplest form, the problem reflects the use of externally invalid measures of the dynamics that generate cultural conflict over risk and other policy-relevant facts. But at a more fundamental level, the science-of-science-communication measurement problem inheres in the phenomena being measured themselves. The “beliefs” individuals form about a societal risk such as climate change are not of a piece; rather they reflect the distinct clusters of inferences that individuals draw as they engage information for two distinct ends: to gain access to the collective knowledge furnished by science, and to enjoy the sense of identity enabled by membership in a community defined by particular cultural commitments. The paper shows how appropriately designed “science comprehension” tests — one general, and one specific to climate change — can be used to measure individuals’ reasoning proficiency as collective-knowledge acquirers independently of their reasoning proficiency as cultural-identity protectors. Doing so reveals that there is in fact little disagreement among culturally diverse citizens on what science knows about climate change. The source of the climate-change controversy and like disputes is the contamination of education and politics with forms of cultural status competition that make it impossible for diverse citizens to express their reason as both collective-knowledge acquirers and cultural-identity protectors at the same time.
    ————————-

    I would remove the comments of Florinator if there is no argument forthcoming. To in crease the signal to noise ratio of the comment thread.

    Pekka, isn’t that the attraction of social science? 🙂

  53. Florinator,
    Since one of the authors is commenting here, you could always have just asked. If you are really interested in an answer, the reason is that those are for the two categories that either explicitly stated that humans are causing warming (1) or explicitly stated that they were causing less than half of the warming (7). To actually get the overall consensus (humans causing global warming) you need the ratio of the numbers in 1, 2 and 3 to those in 5, 6, and 7. Of course, you might want to argue about what the word causing means, I would argue that it means causing as opposed to not causing.

  54. Florinator says:

    To actually get the overall consensus (humans causing global warming)

    Then overall consensus:

    humans are causing global warming

    Is not:

    humans are the main cause of global warming

    Which is endorsed by:

    87% of abstracts

  55. Florinator,
    And your point is what? Actually I don’t really care, since pedantic discussions about main cause and causing are tedious. Maybe you could also clarify explicitly that you’re not sock-puppeting (i.e., are you sock-puppeting?).

  56. Steve Bloom says:

    Victor, IMO research such as that (and Kahan’s) that fail to grapple with the economic interests very obviously at play are necessarily missing the point.

  57. dana1981 says:

    Florinator is neglecting to mention that the explicit quantification consensus was 87% in our abstract ratings and 96% in the author self-ratings, the latter being the much larger sample size. I wonder why he left that out.

  58. dana1981 says:

    Each of us feels free to keep on believing in own conclusions or prejudices undisturbed of what some social scientists may have concluded.

    Replace “social” with “climate” and Pekka’s statement still holds true.

    In one of his AGU talks last week, John Cook made the point that while contrarians reject physical/climate science, physical/climate scientists often reject social science. Contrarians on the other hand are great at social science an PR (i.e. they listen to Frank Luntz). As a result, they’re kicking our butts in terms of messaging.

    James Annan recently had a blog post where he implied that social science is useless. And physical scientists often seem to feel that they know more about effective communication than social scientists. That’s one reason the contrarians are kicking our butts on messaging. Social scientists are getting pretty frustrated about this.

  59. Dana,
    Yes, I did find James Annan’s blog post a little strange and assumed that he was being a bit extreme for effect because I find it hard to believe that someone could think that social science was pointless. That was the post where I asked Reiner Grundmann a question that he appears to have chosen not to answer.

  60. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP: “Do you really think significant contributing factor could be consistent with maybe even less than 50%? I don’t think it is.”

    Significant is simply more than “insignificant”. In this context I’d say human contribution starts to become significant around 10 percent, or more precisely, when human influence can be detected above noise.

    I have no doubt a survey can achieve any percentage it has been asked to provide.

  61. M2,
    Except that if we’re only contributing 10% then it’s not significant in any semantic sense. So, yes, the question could have been phrased more clearly, but I really doubt that any of those who answered it thought significant meant “small, but not-insignificant, amount”.

  62. Steve Bloom says:

    There’s nothing like a messaging short-cut, Dana. It’s the economics.

  63. Michael 2 says:

    Willard says: (December 22, 2014 at 7:28 pm ) “> I think he’s claimed consensus messaging is polarizing, but I’ve seen no supporting evidence to that effect.”

    It can be seen right here on this blog (and probably every other blog in existence). ATTP speaks of a “tent” and to not hold certain views means to be excluded from the tent. This language is inherently polarizing since it not only sorts people into tents, it also purifies the inhabitants of each tent from fringe thinking, from nuances, from questioning.

    It is also the case that some people are simply not tent dwellers, but where does that leave one? Tentless, vulnerable, but whether one finds that scary depends on what kind of animal you consider yourself to be. Some animals are meant to be tentless, herdless and “unpolarized” but the majority (IMO) prefer tents and will give up some of their mental liberty (ie, become polarized) to achieve it.

  64. Florinator says:

    [Mod : I’ll explain the meaning of the term sockpuppet, and will give you one more chance to answer the question as to whether or not you are doing it. It means to comment on a blog under a different name to that you’ve used before, and to do so without anyone else knowing you are doing it and, typically, because you are no longer welcome at that blog and hence need to use a different pseudonym in order to get around the moderator.]

  65. M2,

    ATTP speaks of a “tent” and to not hold certain views means to be excluded from the tent. This language is inherently polarizing since it not only sorts people into tents, it also purifies the inhabitants of each tent from fringe thinking, from nuances, from questioning.

    No, you misrepresent (or possibly misunderstand) me. I wasn’t arguing that people are excluded. I was suggesting that some people are choosing to be outside the tent and I was referring to the discussion of what we should do. I can’t force people into the tent and it’s not my fault if they choose to stay outside. But, if they choose to ignore the problem and choose to ignore that we should be doing something, decisions that they will probably not like will be made in their absence.

    In a similar vein, it rather ticks me off when people complain about the term denier. Yes, it can be divisive, but I’m not forcing people to hold those views and they have every right to change them.

  66. Steve Bloom says:

    In an update to the SE Florida business linked above, I see that Kahan has discovered Saul Alinsky

    As you know, I think the science-communication brilliance of the SE Fla Regional Climate Compact is its recognition that constructive public engagement w/ climate change doesn’t depend on identifying “magic words” or “frames,” or on finding charismatic “conservative messengers” (Hank Paulsen? seriously?).

    Rather it depends on creating and protecting a conversation that enables diverse citizens to apply their reason to protecting their shared way of life as opposed to a conversation that forces them to use their reason to protect the status of their particular cultural group & their own personal standing within it….

    There’s no apparent recognition of what an old idea this is. He’s a genius, that Kahan.

  67. Willard says:

    > This one does, and my summary of it is correct.

    This one does what, and which summary?

    Here’s what “this one” says:

    But it is demonstrably the case (I’m talking real-world evidence here) that the regular issuance of these studies, and the steady drum beat of “climate skeptics are ignoring scientific consensus!” that accompany them, have had no—zero, zilch—net effect on professions of public “belief” in human-caused climate change in the U.S.

    On the contrary, there’s good reason to believe that the self-righteous and contemptuous tone with which the “scientific consensus” point is typically advanced (“assault on reason,” “the debate is over” etc.) deepens polarization. That’s because “scientific consensus,” when used as a rhetorical bludgeon, predictably excites reciprocally contemptuous and recriminatory responses by those who are being beaten about the head and neck with it.

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2013/7/27/weekend-update-the-distracting-counterproductive-97-consensu.html

    Here’s how Dana summarizes this:

    The latter can be summed up by Dan Kahan’s argument that if consensus messaging were effective, it would have worked by now, since it’s been tried for a decade or more.

    Kahan’s main argument is not even the one Dana identified. Worse, he’s asking for evidence which turns out to “arguably” be an extrapolation of the main theme of Dan’s blog (hint: its domain name), for which there is ample evidence.

    As long as lab coat wannabes will continue to show so poor reading and argumentative skills, scepticism regarding the role of social scientists might greatly be exaggerated.

  68. jsam says:

    Definition of denialist in English:
    NOUN
    A person who refuses to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historical evidence:the small minority of very vocal climate change denialists
    [AS MODIFIER]: the denialist view

    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/denialist

  69. Willard says:

    > He’s a genius, that Kahan.

    With a few QI points more, he’d rediscover da konsensus.

  70. Steve Bloom says:

    Nice find, jsam.

  71. Willard,
    But it seems to me that Kahan isn’t really considering science communication but how we communicate the implications of scientific research. I’ve always seen consensus messaging as a mechanism to communicate the level of agreement about a scientific topic, not as a mechanism to communicate the implications of some scientific research. That – I always thought – would come after consensus messaging has succeeded (if it does) in communicating the level of agreement about the science.

  72. Florinator says:

    Wasn’t aware one had to deny being a liar to comment. I am not a sock puppet.

  73. Willard says:

    > Maybe I’m not reading it carefully enough, but where does that indicate that consensus messaging is polarizing?

    One does not simply get polarization by answering questionnaires, AT. One could provide evidence of the underlying mechanism, which is related to cognition. If I say that physicists are X where X is something that would undermine your sense of self, and that I would use this to exclude you from an in-group, would you say it’s polarizing or not?

    A related story:

    http://hopejahrensurecanwrite.com/2014/10/18/follow-up-to-my-op-ed-in-the-new-york-times/

    Dana can only argue that the polarization for which he’s rooting for is justified.

    Denying that he’s polarizing is ridiculous, so much in fact that the onus is on him to prove that what he’s rooting for does not trigger what has been known since the beginning of social psychology, if not since the dawn of times.

  74. Willard,

    If I say that physicists are X where X is something that would undermine your sense of self, and that I would use this to exclude you from an in-group, would you say it’s polarizing or not?

    Okay, that I could see as being polarizing, but is that what consensus messaging is? I can see that the way it might be used could be polarizing, but it’s harder to see how it is inherently polarizing if all that is done is illustrate the existence of a consensus.

  75. Steve Bloom says:

    Saying there is no consensus will eliminate polarization, thus guaranteeing progress consistent with the consensus view. Have I missed anything?

  76. Michael 2 says:

    jsam says: (December 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm) “You’d think an honest denier would conduct a rigorous scientific survey, publish and disprove the consensus.”

    Why should he? It isn’t necessary. You see, “consensus” isn’t science. In Italy the consensus is Catholics are correct. In Utah the consensus is Mormons are correct. In my specialty, the consensus is that IP version 4 addresses are 32 bits long. You are free to do it your way but if you do, you won’t interoperate with anyone else — except of course those who have subscribed to your particular view, your new consensus (IP version 6).

    A consensus is a thing that is decided, not a thing that is discovered. Consensus has hierarchy, gatekeepers of purity. It may correspond closely with truth, certainly in its early days when its fragility compels it to conform to observation. But over time the consensus will take on a life of its own and instead of people forming a consensus, the consensus will form people.

  77. Willard says:

    > But it seems to me that Kahan isn’t really considering science communication but how we communicate the implications of scientific research.

    I’m not sure if that distinction cuts any ice, AT. What I know is that Dan works on cultural cognition. What he finds there has application in communication. What Dan says about communication is been known and exploited in marketing before marketing existed.

    Know your audience, and frame your message accordingly.

    Basic rhetoric, really.

  78. Maybe the climate action plan in South East Florida was possible because it was mainly about adaptation (against sea level rise) and only marginally about mitigation? Mitigation sceptics only claim there was no warming, that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas or in the best case that climate sensitivity is low when talking about mitigation. I do not remember any of them ever protesting against adaptation and many of them advocating adaptation.

  79. jsam says:

    The minority community had already polarised themselves. Consensus communications is not aimed at anti-science cultists. It is aimed at the undecided.

    Not mentioning the war does not mean the war didn’t happen.

  80. Saying there is no consensus would be lying. Would lying improve the credibility of climate scientists among the mitigation sceptics? It might.

  81. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “Maybe I’m not reading it carefully enough, but where does that indicate that consensus messaging is polarizing?”

    I could be wrong about this, but near as I can recall, he doesn’t have evidence of a net effect of increased polarization as the result of consensus messaging. As far as I can recall, his view that it causes polarization is more speculative – based on the evidence related to cultural cognition.

    I have, on more than one occasion, told him that my view is that “skeptics” use consensus messaging to reaffirm their views while “realists” use it to confirm their views and that people who aren’t fairly strongly identified one way or the other don’t care much about it either way. I don’t recall him responding to my opinion directly – except to think that he thinks it’s obvious that consensus messaging doesn’t work; it seems to me that he thinks my point of view is in defense of consensus messaging, when it isn’t.

    I tend to doubt that there is much of anyone who is non-identified that becomes convinced by consensus-related messaging because they will be hearing about that messaging from sources they don’t particularly trust. Therefore, in the end they won’t be swayed in their perspective. Perhaps if they only heard consensus messaging it might have an impact, even if it came from sources they don’t particularly trust – but that isn’t the real world. So –

    1) “Realists” hear about consensus messaging from sources they trust and go: “Yup, that sounds good to me. So I pretty much have the same opinion as I did previously.”

    2) “Skeptics” hear about anti-consensus messaging from sources they trust and go: “Yup, that sounds good to me. So I pretty much have the same opinion as I did previously.”

    3) People who aren’t particularly aligned hear both messages from sources they don’t inherently trust and go: “Hmmm. I don’t know that the truth really is. I hear conflicting messages and I don’t particularly trust the sources anyway. So I pretty much have the same opinion as I did previously.”

  82. Willard,

    I’m not sure if that distinction cuts any ice, AT.

    Yes, possibly. This seems to get back towards the whole deficit vs anti-deficit model of science communication. I’ve always thought that there is a difference between communicating our understanding of the scientific evidence and communicating the implications of the scientific evidence. Maybe there isn’t really any difference but I certainly thought there was when I first started this. I think I may been wrong.

    Know your audience, and frame your message accordingly.

    Yes, that’s certainly true.

  83. dana1981 says:

    Again, Kahan (and those who worship Kahan) ignore the experimental evidence showing that consensus messaging increases AGW acceptance across the political spectrum, except in a very small subset of extremely conservative Americans. Just because you believe consensus messaging is polarizing don’t make it so.

  84. Willard says:

    > it’s harder to see how it is inherently polarizing if all that is done is illustrate the existence of a consensus.

    There is nothing inherent regarding anything, AT, except growth.

    Stating or saying is one thing. Creating a website, a Guardian column under the idea, and working out a PR strategy based on this idea goes beyond merely stating or saying. The purpose is to create a bandwagon effect.

    Sometimes, this can serve a legitimate purpose. Sometimes, it can be used as a propaganda technique. In both cases, polarization should be expected.

    Polarization doesn’t castigate people, people castigate people.

  85. Willard,
    So, you’re arguing that it is essentially polarising by definition? I take it, though, that you don’t necessarily think that that makes it ineffective if your goal is to increase the fraction of people who accept the existence of a consensus.

  86. Willard says:

    > Kahan (and those who worship Kahan) ignore the experimental evidence showing that consensus messaging increases AGW acceptance across the political spectrum,

    Since I don’t worship Kahan (I stopped caring when he failed to answer a question, but at least he admitted he did NOT know the answer), I guess I don’t need to ignore that fact, which fails to establish that polarization does not occur, to say the least. Dana gives away the point with this gem:

    except in a very small subset of extremely conservative Americans

    DA konsensus only excludes extremists, after all.

    Next, Dana will argue that to declare an attack as terrorist has no polarizing effect because it only excludes terrorists.

  87. dana1981 says:

    And again, the Kahanian argument to the contrary is that consensus messaging hasn’t worked in the real world, and that’s because [insert polarization speculation here that’s not supported by evidence]. It hasn’t “worked” because it’s not operating in a vacuum.

    Is the solution then to stop consensus messaging so that only anti-consensus messaging remains? To extend my analogy, that’s like deciding that exercise didn’t lead to weight loss (while you continued to eat ice cream and cake every day), so you should just stop exercising, but continue to eat ice cream and cake. That’ll solve everything.

  88. dana1981 says:

    Can somebody please translate Willard for me? Is he arguing that consensus messaging is polarizing for 3% of the population? If so I have no problem with that, and obviously something that’s effective for 97% of the population is well worth pursuing.

    Perhaps we’re all in agreement after all, but some of us just like to be argumentative.

  89. Dana,

    Is the solution then to stop consensus messaging so that only anti-consensus messaging remains?

    I guess the point that Willard is making is that because consensus messaging is aimed at combating those who are using anti-consensus messaging it is inherently polarizing. Of course, that applies only to those who are actively using anti-consensus messaging and to those who identify strongly with it, but doesn’t change that it is still polarizing. Of course, the assumption is – I assume – that this is still worth it as those are people who cannot be influenced in any way and it may well help to convince the undecided that there is indeed a consensus. In fact, marginalising those who use, and identify with, anti-consensus messaging may well be one of the goals.

  90. Willard says:

    >So, you’re arguing that it is essentially polarising by definition?

    No, I’m arguing that Kahan has ample evidence that **thiis issue** has deep implications in the way people identify themselves. The polarization effect is also something we can observe every day. If that’s not enough, the same pattern is repeating itself as we speak.

  91. Dana,

    Can somebody please translate Willard for me?

    This is tricky but can often be worth the effort 🙂

    Is he arguing that consensus messaging is polarizing for 3% of the population?

    Possibly, as I tried to explain above.

  92. Willard,

    No, I’m arguing that Kahan has ample evidence that **thiis issue** has deep implications in the way people identify themselves.

    This is his cultural cognition idea? I haven’t done enough reading of his work to really understand this but this is the bit in his post that seems to explain it

    The cultural cognition thesis (CCT) holds that individuals can be expected to form risk perceptions that reflect and reinforce their connection to groups whose members subscribe to shared understandings of the best life and the ideal society.

    So, if I understand what you’re suggesting it’s that it can be polarising to actively try and present information that suggests a conflict with what such people regard as best for life and for an ideal society. Am I starting to get close?

  93. Since several decades the US Department of Agriculture gives nutritional advice: eat more whole grains, substitute animal fats by plant oils and so on. Since then the obesity epidemic has become worse, a lot worse. Can we thus conclude that nutritional messaging is counter productive?

  94. Willard says:

    > If so I have no problem with that, and obviously something that’s effective for 97% of the population is well worth pursuing.

    The partition size has little to do with the fact that it’s polarizing or not.

    An anti immigration narrative would be polarizing whatever the number of immigrants involved.

    There are more than 3% of the elected officials to convince that the consensus matters, BTW.

  95. Willard says:

    > Am I starting to get close?

    Yes, but it goes even deeper. My time’s up. I’ll let Joshua tag me. I’m glad Dana finally got it.

  96. Willard,

    Yes, but it goes even deeper.

    I’m sure it does, but it’s also probably getting too late here for me to really get any closer now.

  97. Florinator,

    Wasn’t aware one had to deny being a liar to comment. I am not a sock puppet.

    Asking if you’re a sock puppet isn’t the same as asking you to deny being a liar, and I suspect you know full well why I asked.

  98. dana1981 says:

    Is this Climateball? Making an argument that’s technically true but totally pointless?

    By this definition, my breathing is polarizing because my mere existence will polarize some people.

    To be clear, I don’t care if consensus messaging is technically polarizing because it polarizes some tiny unreachable segment of the population. What I care about is actually moving public opinion towards doing something to mitigate AGW. The evidence shows that consensus messaging accomplishes that.

    Maybe you don’t care about moving public opinion or solving AGW. Maybe you’d rather just argue about whether something technically qualifies as “polarizing”. That does sound a lot like Climateball, from my experience, but to me it’s just a pointless argument. In terms of getting something done, consensus messaging is effective. It seems like nobody here is arguing to the contrary.

  99. Steve Bloom says:

    It’s just Calvinball (the original form), Dana. I agree with you that it would be more helpful if Willard would analyze what works and why, and how things can be done better moving forward. If he wants to just point to Alinsky, as Kahan seems to be doing (albeit without credit given), I’m down with that.

  100. Joshua says:

    ==-> “…(and those who worship Kahan)…”

    Jeebus. I may as well be at Judith’s crib.

  101. Willard says:

    ­> Making an argument that’s technically true but totally pointless?

    ClimateBall ™ at its best. Instead of acknowledging that Dan Kahan may have a point in surmising that consensus touting may be polarizing, he misrepresents what Kahan says, ignores that Kahan has made more empirical research on that subject than the whole SkS crushing crew, caricatures the concept of polarization, backs his caricature [with] non sequiturs, and now minimizes his misunderstanding by epiloguing on ClimateBall ™.

    Pointless indeed.

  102. OPatrick says:

    Joshua

    3) People who aren’t particularly aligned hear both messages from sources they don’t inherently trust and go: “Hmmm. I don’t know that the truth really is. I hear conflicting messages and I don’t particularly trust the sources anyway. So I pretty much have the same opinion as I did previously.”

    I don’t really understand this point. It seems to be responding to an idea that consensus messaging is supposedly sufficient to change people’ views, but no-one holds that position. In a sense I think consensus messaging is polarising and that this is broadly a good thing, given that the polarisation is between the broadly evidence-based acceptance of the serious risks of climate change and the broadly non-evidence-based rejection of these risks. It will take something more to shift most of those people in your category three but when that shift happens I believe the consistency of the consensus messaging will be an important, and possibly necessary, element in their responses. Saying something that is true, and saying it consistently, is a long-term strategy that transcends the tedium of climate/calvin/aristotleball.

  103. Joseph says:

    I think consensus messaging should have some impact on young people and others who don’t have well formed views on climate change and politics. One benefit is that even if these people never have strong views on mitigation or other climate related issues they would still be more likely to not oppose doing something about it.

  104. “Making an argument that’s technically true but totally pointless?”

    That is very generous of Dana. When consensus messaging is polarizing (rather than just annoys some political extremists on the internet) for 3% of the population that is lost anyway, while it is effective for the other people that do not know about it yet, then consensus messaging would be effective. And I thought that that was the original question, whether consensus messaging is effective.

    I have heard some arguments above why consensus messaging would be polarizing. At I have heard the change in public opinion over the decades as “empirical evidence”, which I personally do not see as very convincing, see comparison with the nutritional recommendations of the USDA. Is there any other empirical evidence that consensus messaging is so polarizing as to make lying about it an effective strategy?

  105. Joseph says:

    “Hmmm. I don’t know that the truth really is. I hear conflicting messages and I don’t particularly trust the sources anyway. So I pretty much have the same opinion as I did previously.”

    What if they are not politically inclined and aren’t getting conflicting messages? For one thing the “skeptical” message is confined to a few outlets that are in most cases for people with strong political views.

  106. dana1981 says:

    And I thought that that was the original question, whether consensus messaging is effective.

    That’s what I thought too, but then it turned all “Climateball” in here, which just confuses everything and irritates me. I think it’s pretty clear that the answer to that question is yes, and I don’t think anyone’s even trying to argue otherwise.

  107. Willard says:

    ­­> Saying something that is true, and saying it consistently, is a long-term strategy that transcends the tedium of climate/calvin/aristotleball.

    Some call it education:

    Framing is not primarily about politics or political messaging or communication. It is far more fundamental than that: frames are the mental structures that allow human beings to understand reality – and sometimes to create what we take to be reality. But frames do have an enormous bearing on politics … they structure our ideas and concepts, they shape the way we reason … For the most part, our use of frames is unconscious and automatic.

    http://www.cognitivepolicyworks.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/ThinkingPoints_Chapter3.pdf

    As if all this did not imply any ball game.

    One problem is how to address those who do not share the same frames. This problem goes beyond climate change. My own hypothesis on this is that change in behavior precedes belief revision. Another time.

    ***

    Also, there may not be any conflict between Dan’s perspective and Dana’s. Dana’s framework follows how every successful activism operates. Dan’s framework may be more suited for diplomacy and politics (politicos among themselves, that is).

  108. Joshua says:

    ==> “Maybe you don’t care about moving public opinion or solving AGW.”

    Jeebus – I might as well be at Judith’s crib.

  109. Joshua says:

    ==> “Is there any other empirical evidence that consensus messaging is so polarizing as to make lying about it an effective strategy?

    Oy,

  110. Joshua says:

    O’Patrick –

    ==> “I don’t really understand this point. It seems to be responding to an idea that consensus messaging is supposedly sufficient to change people’ views, but no-one holds that position.”

    What I am saying is that I don’t see evidence that in the real world, consensus-messaging will have a meaningful, differential impact in shaping public opinion w/r/t policies to address climate change.

    If it were to suddenly disappear, and in its stead all that remained was a broad-scale campaign by “skeptics” to convince the public that only a minority of climate scientists thought that the rate of warming is potentially damaging and/or that only a minority think that ACO2 emissions are causing more than 50% of the warming, and no “realists” responded to argue that the “skeptics” were being misleading, there would still be much other messaging from “realists” w/r/t climate change, so I think that little would be different.

    ==> “It will take something more to shift most of those people in your category three but when that shift happens I believe the consistency of the consensus messaging will be an important, and possibly necessary, element in their responses.”

    Maybe. I don’t really know. But I think that if, say, there are enough dramatic shifts in the climate that people experience in their daily lives so as to dramatically reduce the levels of uncertainty and to make the risks from ACO2 more immediately urgent, then the impact of consensus messaging would likely largely redundant. This is what I mean about addressing what we know about decision-making about risk. The most significant issue is the urgency and proximity of the risk. IMO, consensus messaging is not likely to have much influence on how many people perceive the level or risk or the magnitude of uncertainty.

    ==> “Saying something that is true, and saying it consistently, is a long-term strategy that transcends the tedium of climate/calvin/aristotleball.”

    1) Consistently saying that CO2 emissions pose a certain level of risk is different than consistently saying that X% of scientists and 2), Obama or Dana or consistently saying that X% of scientists think that CO2 emissions pose a certain level of risk is likely to have fairly predictable levels of influence – depending on how the listeners identify with the speakers. The lay of the land is that the issue is politicized. If the issue weren’t already politicized, or if it weren’t about risk on an extended time scale, I would guess that outcomes might be different.

  111. Joshua says:

    ==> “And as a lay person my confidence in the validity of the science is increased by there being a consensus. ”

    By virtue of being here, you are an outlier. It is probably not very instructive to try and generalize to the larger public from your own perspective.

  112. Joshua says:

    I tried to address those who seemed to be engaging in good faith with points that I made, and who made comments that might help me to deepen my perspective. If I missed someone who was engaging in good faith and wants to continue doing so, let me know.

    As for dana and steve – I consider your input in this thread thus far to be basically the “realist” equivalent of typical “skeptical” dreck. If you really want to know that I think or think that there is some value in engaging with me in good faith, I’m game.

  113. Joshua says:

    Pekka –

    ==> “Isn’t this a nice issue. Each of us feels free to keep on believing in own conclusions or prejudices undisturbed of what some social scientists may have concluded.”

    Same as it ever was.

    But I don’t think that your observation is limited to social scientists – at least for most people – who can’t themselves evaluate the underlying evidence and quality of analysis from hard scientists.

  114. Willard says:

    >That’s what I thought too, but then it turned all “Climateball”

    Indeed, right there:

    There is a debate, but it’s pretty one-sided. The “consensus messaging is effective” side has experimental supporting evidence, while the “no it’s not” side really doesn’t. The latter can be summed up by Dan Kahan’s argument that if consensus messaging were effective, […]

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/peter-doran-on-the-97/#comment-40657

    Strawmaning Kahan to make him the representative of those who would disagree about the effectiveness of consensus messaging does not top invoking C13 as empirical evidence for consensus building, though. That was the most amazing question begging move I’ve seen since a long time.

    ***

    Another interesting paragraph from the post where Dana fails to see any relevant evidence to a question he considers one-sided:

    That’s too bad because, again, the best evidence [1] on why the public remains divided on climate change is the surfeit of cues that the issue is one that culturally divides people. Those cues motivate members of the public to reject any evidence of “scientific consensus” that suggests it is contrary to the position that predominates in their group [2]. Under these circumstances, one can keep telling people that there is scientific consensus on issues of undeniable practical significance, and a substantial proportion of them just won’t believe [3] what one is saying.

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2013/7/27/weekend-update-the-distracting-counterproductive-97-consensu.html

    [1] http://www.culturalcognition.net/browse-papers/fixing-the-communications-failure.html

    [2] http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1549444

    [3] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-012-0424-6#page-1

    ***

    On the one hand, we have C13, which confirms that C13 is effective. On the other, we have Kahan’s research. One-sided indeed.

    By sheer serendipity, this morning I stumbled upon evidence of the power of consensus building:

    ttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470496/

    The Doctor’s choice is America’s choice.

  115. Eli Rabett says:

    As in everything else, perhaps it is better to state the converse

    The overwhelming consensus of climate scientists is that in the absence of human influence we would not be experiencing the currently observed climate change.

    Anybunny wanna argue with that?

  116. Eli Rabett says:

    > Saying something that is true, and saying it consistently, is a long-term strategy that transcends the tedium of climate/calvin/aristotleball.

    Usually that’s called advertising

  117. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard,

    Motivated reasoning is unquestionably a real phenomenon. But motivated reasoning that causes people to reject scientific positions based on political ideology is only one form of motivated reasoning. And political ideology is only one form of in-grouping.

    There are other signals that people orient themselves with respect to. Perceived scientific consensus is one of them. The tobacco industry knew this. Fossil fuel industry knew this. Conservative political communications operatives like Frank Luntz have known this. And social science is starting to demonstrate this. There are a bunch of studies demonstrating that perceived scientific consensus influences people’s perception of key beliefs about environmental issues. Some of these studies find that consensus messaging has a small backfire effect on the most extreme right wingers, but other studies show no such backfire. All of the studies that actually interrogate the question of perceived consensus show that it influences beliefs further down the line. So it’s not “C13” vs. all of Kahan’s work. Despite what Kahan says, consensus messaging works, and despite what Kahan says, it is not at all clear that it leads to polarization in any meaningful sense.

    Science has, in many respects, already won the culture war. Or at least decided the terms on which it will be fought. The creation museum in Kentucky is filled with fossils and reconstructions of paleogeography. Anti-choice groups are fighting women’s reproductive health in terms of fetal neurological development instead of a divine spark. When Congressman attack climate in the US Congress, they do it in largely scientific terms. The most influential climate denial blogs are all science rather than policy focused. When you ask people who they trust on the issue of climate, scientists are the number one answer, and the only one with a majority of trust vs. mistrust.

    People don’t want to disagree with their political in-group, but they also don’t like to see themselves as anti-scientific. And while they might be able to fool themselves about the trustworthiness of a single scientist who fits their ideological biases, they have a much harder time dismissing a consensus of 97% of the world’s experts.

    Cultural cognition is also a real issue. Both of these things can be true. No one benefits from casting these as mutually exclusive. Well, the status quo does, I suppose.

    But John Cook has been clear about the need to treat cultural cognition seriously. Kahan *used* to be clear about multi-channel methods of communication, like those employed by Cook.

    If you want to know if consensus messaging is polarizing, you have to actually test this. If you want to know if it changes attitudes, you have to actually test this. There are people doing this work. Kahan is not one of them. And if his model was correct, liberals would correctly perceive the appropriate level of scientific agreement, but they don’t.

    None of this is to attack Kahan. As I said, cultural cognition is something to take seriously. I use framing to avoid polarization.

    You guys are arguing about stuff that you don’t seem to want to actually read the literature on. That’s a great way to pass the time, but it’s not a great way to learn.

    —–

    Full disclosure: I am a coauthor Cook et al., 2013, and a coauthor with John Cook about consensus messaging in the National Center for Science Education’s journal. I just got back from AGU where I gave a talk on the guts of the consensus on climate, and its role as a gateway belief.

  118. Steve Bloom says:

    More whining from you, Joshua? Tch.

    As blog denizens are indeed poor subjects for climate outreach efforts, perhaps Joshua and Willard will report to us their relevant results from the real world.

  119. Andy Skuce says:

    In point b, I address the rather overblown claim that consensus messaging is divisive here:
    http://critical-angle.net/2014/06/26/consensus-criticism-communication/

    I admire Kahan’s work and I have learned a lot from it, but I think in the tone of his opposition to consensus messaging, he has been gratuitously divisive himself. I don’t see anything in Cook et al that contradicts Kahan, or Hulme, for that matter. Unfortunately, they seem to see it as a zero-sum game.

  120. Joshua says:

    Andy –

    ==> “… but I think in the tone of his opposition to consensus messaging, he has been gratuitously divisive himself. ”

    I don’t disagree with that.

  121. Joshua says:

    ===> “More whining from you, Joshua? Tch.”

    Wow! Who could have predicted that?

  122. KR says:

    Person opinion here, but I don’t think that consensus messaging is polarizing at all, in the sense of increasing polarization. Rather, it is both a tool by the polarized (starting with the Frank Luntz method of trying to persuade the public that consensus doesn’t exist, to prevent from policy being shaped by the science), and a highlighter of existing polarization.

    Presenting information about a scientific consensus brings strong opinions out of the woodwork – but that’s not a _cause_ of those opinions. Yes, discussing the topic will make some people rant. That’s because they have preexisting strong opinions, not because there is a consensus on the science.

    In the meantime, public policy has always been shaped by the public view of expert opinions on all topics. To act otherwise would be irrational. Which IMO makes the denial of an actual consensus on climate quite detrimental to the practice of good policy decisions.

  123. Joshua says:

    Andy –

    From Lewandowsky:

    The other is you can have a messenger who is consummate with your beliefs. You get a liberal to talk to liberals and a conservative to talk to conservatives.

    That’s part of my point. To the extent that their are conservatives out there promoting consensus messaging, it might be effective; but the extent that it’s happening is little compared to the amount of anti-consensus messaging from conservatives.

    And this:

    There’s some evidence that you can avoid that if you ask people to tell us [about] an occasion when you felt really good about your fundamental beliefs in free enterprise (or whatever is important to the person in question). Then they become more receptive to a corrective message. And the reason is that it’s less threatening in that context. Basically, I make myself feel good about the way I view the world, and then I can handle that because it’s not threatening my basic worldview.

    If there were a real-world context for setting up that condition, I would think it would be more effective. But then, IMO, it isn’t really consensus messaging that is what’s effective, so much as creating a productive communicative context. W/o the context, I am dubious that the consensus messaging will work.

    In other words, what we have now by way of consensus messaging is akin to this (from Lewandowsky):

    If you get Republicans into the laboratory, and you say hey, there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction, that may strengthen their incorrect belief.

  124. Joshua says:

    KR –

    ==> “Presenting information about a scientific consensus brings strong opinions out of the woodwork – but that’s not a _cause_ of those opinions. ”

    I agree.

    From Kahan:

    On the contrary, there’s good reason to believe that the self-righteous and contemptuous tone with which the “scientific consensus” point is typically advanced (“assault on reason,” “the debate is over” etc.) deepens polarization.

    That’s because “scientific consensus,” when used as a rhetorical bludgeon, predictably excites reciprocally contemptuous and recriminatory responses by those who are being beaten about the head and neck with it.

    From me:

    Again, this a description of cause-and-effect that I think is not well conceived. The cause is not what the “realists” do or don’t do, but the motivated reasoning of “skeptics” – who will seek to confirm their biases, effectively, no matter what “realists” do or don’t do.

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2013/7/27/weekend-update-the-distracting-counterproductive-97-consensu.html#comments

  125. Joshua says:

    ==>? “Which IMO makes the denial of an actual consensus on climate quite detrimental to the practice of good policy decisions.”

    Oy.

  126. Steve Bloom says:

    The whining seems so pervasive as to not really require prediction.

  127. Brigitte says:

    Sorry again for afterthoughts – Xmas and all that – Has anybody thought about the word ‘consensus’ as possibly impeding what one might call the ‘consensus project’? What I mean is that it immediately provokes reactions like: but we all know that science is not based on consensus, etc. Also, could there be something going on like ‘consensus fatigue’ and the ‘crying wolf effect’ – i.e. people thinking that climate scientists are protesting too much…. I am not saying they are and I am also not saying they shouldn’t….But there may be some semantic and communicational pitfalls to be aware of.

  128. Brigitte,

    Has anybody thought about the word ‘consensus’ as possibly impeding what one might call the ‘consensus project’?

    I’m not convinced that it would make a difference. Whatever words were used, or whatever was done, people would find reason to criticise. The consensus project was simply illustrating the existence of a consensus, not arguing that it is how science should work.

    But there may be some semantic and communicational pitfalls to be aware of.

    Yes, this is certainly true, but it is hard to know if there is an actual communication strategy that wouldn’t be criticised.

  129. Brigitte says:

    That is also true!

  130. OPatrick says:

    Constantly shifting communication strategy every time it’s criticised is at least as likely to be a pitfall as not shifting it.

  131. A problem that I’m aware of (from my perspective at least) is that as a naive physical scientist, I think that science communication should be straightforward. I just need to explain the science and how well we understand it (maybe mentioning a consensus, or maybe not). As long as you have the ability to sound enthusiastic and the ability to explain a complex scientific topic in terms others should understand, then others should be able to get something from this as long as they were interested in actually learning. That there is a problem communicating climate science, probably means that the latter isn’t true and this is probably where Dan Kahan’s Cultural Cognition idea comes in.

    The issue I sometimes have is that I see quite a lot of criticism of communication strategies, but not a great deal of it constructive. It’s quite possible that physical scientists like myself are naive about how best to communicate climate science but many – like myself – don’t really know what else to do other than try to explain our understanding as best we can. Consensus messaging can play a role in terms of illustrating the level of agreement, but there’s also more that needs to be done. So, if straightforward science communication isn’t effective in some cases, what can you do? I don’t know the answer and I suspect there isn’t a straightforward one.

  132. OPatrick,

    Constantly shifting communication strategy every time it’s criticised is at least as likely to be a pitfall as not shifting it.

    On a similar note, if a researcher publicly criticises consensus messaging, and then does research to show that their criticism has merit, how can they know that what they said publicly didn’t influence their results?

    More seriously, though, if people really do want others to gain a better understanding of a topic like climate science, then it would seem to me that they should be careful of being critical of those who are presenting information that is factually true. However carefully they frame their criticism, it’s clear that others will interpret this as s suggestion that the information isn’t true, rather than simply a criticism that the method is ineffective or polarizing.

  133. Improving the understanding on climate change requires that correct information is repeated. It’s also important that this spreads also the message that scientists agree almost unequivocally all the basics, including the central role of human influence in the warming.

    Based on numerous other disputes of the past my strong belief is that spreading the correct message does not proceed best by arguing directly with the opponents, but by improving, how the correct message is presented. It’s also very useful to approach the correct message from various angles. As often as possible the correct message should be presented as if the wrong claims were not there at all. From the wrong claims we must learn, where the problems of the correct message are. These points must be presented more clearly, but without any reference to the contrarians. We should not be seen in arguing with them, but just telling truthful information.

    Following my preferred path is made difficult by the wide spread of views among those who agree with main stream science to the point that they do not consider the full IPCC AR5 WG1 report as overstating the point. Here I didn’t exclude those who consider it too timid, and who think that the situation is significantly worse. Public argumentation between these people and those who see no significant bias in IPCC WG1 report could be presented in a way that improves the message, but I’m afraid that it works in the opposite direction. It tells (correctly) that scientists disagree on much leading to the (incorrect) projection that the disagreement extends even to the basics.

    Communicating effectively on the climate science is difficult, because so many things are really uncertain. The message is solid and correct only when the uncertainties are admitted and the related risks understood. Trying to strengthen the message by hiding the uncertainties gives weapons for the opponents, but understanding risks seems to be one of the most difficult issues even in easier cases than the risks of climate change. This is the dilemma on effective communication, but shortcuts do not solve that, in my view.

    Somehow it must be made clear that the worse end of the plausible range of outcomes counts in rational decision making, not the benign end. As long as that is not accepted on intuitive level, no correct argument is convincing.

  134. OPatrick says:

    Joshua

    What I am saying is that I don’t see evidence that in the real world, consensus-messaging will have a meaningful, differential impact in shaping public opinion w/r/t policies to address climate change.

    I don’t really know what this evidence would, or could, look like. The reality is we make these judgements based on our understanding of how others around us behave, and, as I think has come up before, this may mean our perceptions are significantly different depending on where we are. In the UK I believe the inherent polarisation is less than it is in the US.

    On a separate note there does seem a disconnect between the amount of effort people put in to challenging the consensus messaging and the amount of time those who are accused of focusing on this messaging actually spend on it. I don’t see it as a major focus by anyone (and I say this, confidently, in the knowledge that Dana and John A named their blog in reference to it), yet it often seems to be challenged as though it is.

  135. Steven Mosher says:

    scientists dont believe in AGW because there is a consensus. why should I?
    it’s perhaps the most stupid appeal ever made.
    especially to certain classes of republicans.

  136. OPatrick says:

    why should I?

    Presumably because we don’t have the skills and knowledge to make these judgements otherwise. Am I missing something here?

  137. Steven,

    scientists dont believe in AGW because there is a consensus. why should I?
    it’s perhaps the most stupid appeal ever made.
    especially to certain classes of republicans.

    Sure, but that’s not really the point. It’s simply a piece of information: “most scientists agree that we are warming and it is mostly us (or more than 50% us, or whatever particular phrasology is best)”. The thing I find confusing is not that people don’t believe the science after a consensus has been illustrated, it’s that some won’t even accept that there is a consensus.

    Pekka,

    Somehow it must be made clear that the worse end of the plausible range of outcomes counts in rational decision making, not the benign end. As long as that is not accepted on intuitive level, no correct argument is convincing.

    I agree and it has surprised me that this isn’t fairly obvious. When I was commenting on Bishop Hill, it did actually seem possible to have discussion about this idea. In some sense this is why the alarmist tag is frustrating because – as you say – rational decision making requires considering the more extreme scenarios, but doing so results in being called an alarmist. You might even think that this was a deliberate ploy to discourage people from actually doing so 😉

  138. dikranmarsupial says:

    Steve Mosher should read this RealClimate article (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/just-what-is-this-consensus-anyway/) from back in 2004, which begins

    “We’ve used the term “consensus” here a bit recently (see our earlier post on the subject), without ever really defining what we mean by it. In normal practice, there is no great need to define it – no science depends on it. But it’s useful to record the core that most scientists agree on, for public presentation.”

    Of course skeptic blogs use the straw man that discussion of the consensus is a form of argument from authority, but it doesn’t mean it is anything more than a straw man (as the above article demonstrates). For those unable to understand the science for themselves, aligning themselves with the mainstream scientific position is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, but this requires accessible evidence of what the mainstream scientific position actually is (efforts such as the TCP address that need). For those who can understand the science, they can go directly to the scientific literature (provided they are aware that there is a possibility of Dunning-Kruger if you think mainstream science has got things wrong – great claims require great evidence).

    Of course if there hadn’t been efforts to argue that large numbers of scientists did not agree with the mainstream position, then there would have been little need for studies of the consensus.

  139. Brigitte: “Has anybody thought about the word ‘consensus’ as possibly impeding what one might call the ‘consensus project’?”

    Intuitively I would agree that the word consensus is not the best one. If only because it is associated with consensus decision making and with try to find a broad consensus for policies, which are left-wing ways of thinking and are rejected by people who think in terms of conflict and power.

    Except when I write about consensus messaging, I mostly try to formulate it as: scientists generally agree that it is warming, that it is us and that it will thus continue if we do not change our ways. The suggestion of Pekka to formulate it in as many different ways as possible is likely a good one.

    Apparently, I did not write it in good faith, but I am still interested in empirical evidence that consensus messaging leads to so much polarisation as to make it an ineffective communication technique.

  140. Steve Mosher, it is my job to make the new consensus. If my ideas do not fit into the old one, great.

    However, on topics where I am not working on, the scientific consensus is normally a useful guide, that information is more likely to be useful for my understanding of the world as some random text found on the internet. And infinitely more like to be useful as some text written by the political opposition to a specific science.

  141. Willard says:

    > scientists dont believe in AGW because there is a consensus. why should I?

    While I’d like to see an engineer-level derivation of the first claim, Dan Kahan has an interesting answer to the rhetorical question:

    I’d say it makes perfect sense [1] for the public to try to give weight to what they perceive to be the dominant view on decision-relevant science. Indeed, it’s a a form of charming but silly romanticism [2] to think that ordinary members of the public should “take no one’s word for it” (nullius in verba [3]) but rather try to figure out for themselves who is right when there are (as is inevitably so) debates over decision-relevant science.

    Members of the public are not experts on scientific matters. Rather they are experts in figuring out who the experts are [4], and in discerning what the practical importance of expert opinion is for the decisions they have to make as individuals and citizens.

    Ordinary citizens are amazingly good at this. Their use of this ability, moreover, is not a substitute for rational thought [5]; it is an exercise rational thought of the most impressive sort.

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2013/7/27/weekend-update-the-distracting-counterproductive-97-consensu.html#commentscomments

    [1] http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2013/6/7/five-theses-on-science-communication-the-public-and-decision.html

    [2] http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2012/7/1/the-cultural-certification-of-truth-in-the-liberal-republic.html

    [3] http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2012/6/26/nullius-in-verba-surely-you-are-joking-mr-hooke-or-why-cultu.html

    [4] See 2.

    [5] http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2012/7/1/the-cultural-certification-of-truth-in-the-liberal-republic.html

    ***

    On the other hand, we have C13, which provides evidence that C13 kicks ass.

  142. Willard says:

    >it is my job to make the new consensus

    And it is my job to spot that when you said:

    When consensus messaging is polarizing (rather than just annoys some political extremists on the internet) for 3% of the population that is lost anyway.

    There may be an equivocation in the word “population”, as we’re not talking reaching out to scientists who formed the 3% in C13.

    Since C13 can’t even claim having established representivity, I’d be more circumspect in my use of litotes based on these numbers.

  143. Joshua says:

    Victor –

    ==> “Apparently, I did not write it in good faith, ”

    ???

    Surely you see the difference between:

    ==> “Is there any other empirical evidence that consensus messaging is so polarizing as to make lying about it an effective strategy?”

    and

    ==> “but I am still interested in empirical evidence that consensus messaging leads to so much polarisation as to make it an ineffective communication technique.”

    ————————————

    AFAIK, Kahan looks a the evidence that he has elated to cultural cognition, and draws the conclusion you refer to in your second phrasing, but doesn’t have direct evidence. AFAIK, his reasoning is very similar to Lewandowsky’s as I quoted in my 5:41 AM comment. I could be wrong.

    My own personal belief is not that the consensus message leads to so much polarization as to make it ineffective. I think it isn’t effective because it doesn’t really address the underlying systemic causation for public opinions on climate change.

  144. Peter Jacobs says:

    Steve Mosher writes: “scientists dont believe in AGW because there is a consensus. why should I?it’s perhaps the most stupid appeal ever made.
    especially to certain classes of republicans.”

    Plenty of scientists outside of climate believe that the consensus position is correct based on deference to that consensus rather than a deep interrogation of the evidence. Climate scientists defer to the scientific consensus in other fields in a similar way. No one can be master of all domains of knowledge. We all have constraints on our time and mental resources. Scientists, just like the public, rely on heuristics. I asked several atmospheric scientists (who were leery about leaning on consensus messaging) why they believed HIV causes AIDS, or why they were comfortable vaccinating their children. Not a single one could articulate the actual scientific evidence for these positions. They defer to the consensus. We all do. Perhaps not on every question, but on a huge number of them.

    To deny that humans use cognitive shortcuts rather than try to ascertain the evidence for all positions is perhaps a different kind of science denial than the Skydragons, but it’s not really any less silly.

  145. Peter Jacobs says:

    Joshua writes: “I think it isn’t effective because it doesn’t really address the underlying systemic causation for public opinions on climate change.”

    You don’t think people like to think of themselves as being on the side of scientific knowledge? Not making an assertion- asking if that is indeed what you are saying.

  146. Joshua says:

    O’Patrick –

    ==> “I don’t really know what this evidence would, or could, look like.”

    I don’t really know either. It’s tough to visualize. The evidence that Dana speaks to is relevant, but isn’t really real-world evidence, IMO.

    ==> “The reality is we make these judgements based on our understanding of how others around us behave, and, as I think has come up before, this may mean our perceptions are significantly different depending on where we are. In the UK I believe the inherent polarisation is less than it is in the US.”

    Yes – the issue about different levels of polarization in different contexts is, I think, important. My view is that the effectiveness of consensus messaging is largely (negatively) associated with the degree of polarization.

    ==> “On a separate note there does seem a disconnect between the amount of effort people put in to challenging the consensus messaging and the amount of time those who are accused of focusing on this messaging actually spend on it.”

    I agree with this also. That’ disconnect is why I think that the consensus wars are basically a popular proxy battleground for the climate wars. Why do the degree of consensus, and the question of the effectiveness of consensus messaging, attract so many billions of electrons?

  147. Joshua says:

    Peter –

    ==> “You don’t think people like to think of themselves as being on the side of scientific knowledge? Not making an assertion- asking if that is indeed what you are saying.”

    I think that people, depending on their orientation within a polarized context, define “scientific knowledge” in different ways. As Kahan refers to, people are very good at picking their experts – and they often do so in ways that will dovetail with their political/cultural/ideological orientation. The % of experts overall, who align in a particular direction, is information – but the impact of that information is governed, to a large degree, by the degree of polarization and the degree of associated identification with a particular position.

    Here’s an example (for illustrative purposes only – I’m not saying it is a direct parallel), to the degree that someone is ideologically aligned to reject western medicine and believe that they’ve seen evidence with their own eyes and from reading the bible that the best way to cure their illness is to pray, then telling them of the prevalence of evidence from western medicine to recommend a certain western medical procedure will have a limited influence.

  148. Willard says:

    Not 97%, but close enough:

  149. Willard says:

    More recommendations:

  150. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard,

    For someone who likes to wank about terminological precision, you sure seem happy to conflate imagery of authority figures with scientific consensus, medicine with science, etc.

    But let’s say, for the sake of argument, tobacco companies engaged in consensus messaging. What would that mean in terms of the effectiveness or legitimacy of such messaging for climate?

    I will say this again- people actually study the issues that you’re happy to snark back and forth in blog comments about. Ask the Yale/GMU climate communications group what their studies have found about the role of perceived consensus in shaping public attitudes. Ask them whether consensus messaging is polarizing.

    Or, post a bunch of links to YouTube videos that are only notionally related to the discussion at hand, and hope people don’t notice the elision of differences

  151. Arthur Smith says:

    On the question of whether the strategy is having any success: my perception here in the US is there has been a sea change in the last couple of years – perhaps a reaction to “Tea Party” extremism rather than responding to anything climate scientists or communicators have done – but the publicly voiced opinion by almost all recently has been either neutral or in favor of action on climate. The fact that Republicans have been going around saying “I am not a scientist” when asked about global warming is a huge step up from the “biggest hoax ever” stuff of 5-10 years back. Yes, we still have the Jim Inhofe’s of the world – but now instead of representing a large number of others just behind him, Inhofe seems more and more isolated. Nobody loves coal. Even among many conservative friends I have, fossil fuels are no longer viewed as an unalloyed good. Change is happening…

  152. Joshua says:

    A whine:

    So here we have a discussion where I have talked about my understanding of an “expert” opinion and my understanding of scientific evidence related to the effectiveness of consensus messaging, and in response, I have had my motivations impugned, been presented with what I feel is an inaccurate “summary” of that evidence, told in an authoritative tone that the evidence (in a field where causality is near impossible to determine with certainty) is more or less conclusive running in a different direction, and repeatedly been put into a position of defending against straw men.

    It strikes me that this is very similar to: (1) what happens very often when I engage with “skeptics” and, (2) how “skeptics” describe their interactions with “realists.”

  153. Peter Jacobs says:

    Joshua writes: “I think that people, depending on their orientation within a polarized context, define “scientific knowledge” in different ways. As Kahan refers to, people are very good at picking their experts – and they often do so in ways that will dovetail with their political/cultural/ideological orientation.”

    But this is Kahanian alchemy. It’s genius, really. He takes the fundamental strengths of consensus and turns them into weakness. Weakness that conveniently maps quite well onto his preferred model of how people parse information.

    So to test “consensus”, he actually takes two lone experts, assigns them positions and backgrounds that map with the consensus/dissensus, and allows people to pick their favorite. It’s not shocking that this plays into cultural cognition.

    What he’s doing is taking the enormous normative power of something like the 97% meme and making it disappear. You can ignore one expert, probably even several, in favor of folks who better align with your prejudices; it’s a lot less easy to ignore *nearly all* of the experts.

    He’s casting this as information deficit (consensus) vs. cultural cognition (ideology), when in fact it is cultural cognition (science embracer) + cultural cognition (ideology).

    “The % of experts overall, who align in a particular direction, is information – but the impact of that information is governed, to a large degree, by the degree of polarization and the degree of associated identification with a particular position.”

    The evidence for this is incredibly week. Consensus messaging works overall. Some studies have found small polarization effects, others show no polarization or that consensus messaging works better against the ideological grain.

    I think that people, depending on their orientation within a polarized context, define “scientific knowledge” in different ways. As Kahan refers to, people are very good at picking their experts – and they often do so in ways that will dovetail with their political/cultural/ideological orientation. The % of experts overall, who align in a particular direction, is information – but the impact of that information is governed, to a large degree, by the degree of polarization and the degree of associated identification with a particular position.

    “the degree that someone is ideologically aligned to reject western medicine and believe that they’ve seen evidence with their own eyes and from reading the bible that the best way to cure their illness is to pray, then telling them of the prevalence of evidence from western medicine to recommend a certain western medical procedure will have a limited influence.”

    You’re setting up an analogy that is contrasting ideology vs. evidence messaging, not consensus messaging. And it’s presupposing that people value their ideology and not science, which is not at all clear in the real world- and in fact, I think it’s something Kahan would probably disagree with himself.

  154. Willard says:

    Peter Jacobs,

    Appeals to authority are appeals to authority, whether they come from the advertising industry, from activists like Dana and John, or desinformers like Willard Tony.

    In the post Dana kindly provided without showing any evidence to have read, there is a guest appearance by Mike Hulme who argues that appeals to authority are illegitimate. Dan Kahan disagrees, and considers that authority can legitimately be invoked and seeked after. As far as I am concerned, I can lay my cards on the table without relying on authority, if that’s one of the ground rules. It’s cumbersome, but I guess I could manage, although I wonder how Hulme would fare without being able to cite. Storytelling would be enough for what I have to say.

    On the other hand, it’s quite clear that Hulme has never heard of the problem of epistemic closure. That is, even if you rely only on what you know, it’s not even clear you can perform every valid inferences that follow from what you think you know. There are other epistemic paradoxes, but that one is tough enough for a geographer to grasp.

    Dan Kahan and others (Haidt, Carson, Hamilton, etc) have shown time and time again that beliefs are part and parcel of one’s identity and social inclusion. If you think that more ClimateBall about “but consensus” will change anyone’s mind, go for it. Kahan’s claim that this strategy is poisoning the well is the lesser of my concern. I prefer we try everything and see what sticks.

    Analytics about the 97% website would be nice.

  155. Joshua, and seen from the other side, you guys are behaving like “sceptics” light, at least like the ones you can still talk to, the ones which are not verbally abusive. That two intelligent guys with a good grasp of how science works can (initially) overstate the strength of their case so enormously increases my respect for the non-abusive “sceptics”.

    But I guess the discussion did get us somewhere. (And that is different from a discussion with a “sceptic”.) We now know there is no empirical evidence that consensus messaging in not effective and that there is no convincing real-life evidence that it is effective. I hope that that is a fair summary.

    Personally, I will stick for now with the little evidence there is. If only because I prefer to speak the truth and the truth is that there is a consensus on the basics of climate change.

  156. Peter Jacobs says:

    Joshua writes: “in response, I have had my motivations impugned”

    By who?

    “been presented with what I feel is an inaccurate “summary” of that evidence”

    Which summary? What is a more accurate summary?

    “told in an authoritative tone that the evidence (in a field where causality is near impossible to determine with certainty) is more or less conclusive running in a different direction”

    We can either accept the merits of social science or not. Claiming that causality can’t be determined when the conclusions go against one’s argument, but happily accepting causality when the conclusions support one’s argument is pointless.

    The balance of evidence, from surveys and experiments, is that cultural cognition is a genuine issue, and that consensus perception alters public attitudes. If someone is telling you differently, they are either not up to date on the literature, or are engaging in boosterism.

    “and repeatedly been put into a position of defending against straw men”

    You’re not under any obligation to defend positions that are not your own. If someone attributes a position to you that you don’t believe, tell them that and move on.

    “t strikes me that this is very similar to: (1) what happens very often when I engage with “skeptics” and, (2) how “skeptics” describe their interactions with “realists.””

    People arguing on the internet often act in ways that are very similar, even though their positions are often in opposition. It probably tells you something about arguing on the internet. It doesn’t say a whole lot about the merits of anyone’s positions.

  157. Willard says:

    > Consensus messaging works overall. Some studies have found small polarization effects, others show no polarization or that consensus messaging works better against the ideological grain.

    Citation needed, preferably not C13 itself.

  158. Willard says:

    > The balance of evidence, from surveys and experiments, is that cultural cognition is a genuine issue, and that consensus perception alters public attitudes.

    Again, citation needed. Again, appealing to C13 would be kinda circular.

  159. Willard says:

    > People arguing on the internet often act in ways that are very similar, even though their positions are often in opposition. It probably tells you something about arguing on the internet.

    It tells something about polarization, actually.

  160. Willard says:

    > The fact that Republicans have been going around saying “I am not a scientist” when asked about global warming is a huge step up from the “biggest hoax ever” stuff of 5-10 years back.

    I noticed this too, and believe the recurring appeals to “non-authority” was quite remarkable.

    On the other hand, I’m not sure it’s a victory. If it is, it may be a Pyrrhic victory, as the “you’re a DK denier” card may lose its bite. This card has no bite anyway against more lukewarm opponents, so it may be a good thing to look for something else.

  161. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “Appeals to authority are appeals to authority, whether they come from the advertising industry, from activists like Dana and John, or desinformers like Willard Tony.”

    If someone other than you wrote that, you would (rightly) tear them to shreds.

    You’re presupposing that everyone is making an appeal to authority, and this is flatly, unquestionably false.

    The scientific consensus is based on evidence. Consensus is an indicator of the strength of the evidence and a diverse consensus also guards against issues like epistemic misfortune, self-interest, and groupthink.

    Doctors (or actors pretending to be such) on the payroll of tobacco companies are not equivalent to the consensus position of national science academies around the world.

    There is no consilience of evidence in their favor and they lack social diversity. What they had was perhaps the trappings of authority, but it was not consensus, much less one that was robust to possible sources of error.

    Consensus messaging is not some fallacious appeal to authority. It is a recognition of the real way in which people choose to orient themselves to an issue. People (in general) would prefer to use consensus as a heuristic rather than attempt to adjudicate the evidence themselves. This is, as Kahan notes, a perfectly rational way of handling such questions given all of our temporal and cognitive demands.

    “If you think that more ClimateBall about “but consensus” will change anyone’s mind”

    I don’t think any such thing. I think that communications efforts need to be scientific. That means not relying on our own prejudices and gut reactions, but actually testing things. People are doing that. What they find is not consistent with what Kahan is saying, although it’s perhaps consistent with what his own studies actually show (as opposed to his editorializing about them). There is basic agreement that worldview can shape the interpretation of evidence. That the public does not correctly perceive the true level of scientific agreement. And that the perception of scientific agreement heavily influences a number of other important attitudes on scientific and environmental questions. And basically everyone but Kahan agrees that consensus invocation can shape consensus perception.

    All of this might be “ClimateBall” to you. You snark on blog comments. Which is fine! I snark on blog comments too.

    To the people who are actively engaged in the social, psychological, and communications science, this is decidedly not “ClimateBall”. It’s just doing the necessary work to answer questions that have significant policy implications. If the topic wasn’t climate, it would probably still be done, in a different context. That’s not to say that they are authorities, so we should all shut up and do what they command. Rather, it’s to say that your interaction with this topic is not necessarily a reflection of what is actually taking place.

    “I prefer we try everything and see what sticks.”

    It’s interesting. John Cook and the Yale/GMU folks, and the AAAS people, and all of the other groups that use consensus messaging happily talk about using many different messages to reach many different people. Consensus just happens to be one of them, and it’s definitely not the only one that any of them use. Critics of consensus messaging, on the other hand, pay lip service to saying that we should try everything. Just not consensus. For reasons.

  162. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “It tells something about polarization, actually.”

    It doesn’t, actually. Unless you define polarization so broadly that it loses all meaning. Because you get exactly the same behaviors occurring within political in-groups on internet discussion fora as you do between different ones.

  163. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “Again, citation needed. Again, appealing to C13 would be kinda circular.”

    Ding et al., 2011; Lewandosky et al., 2013; Kotcher et al., 2014; Aklin and Urpelainen, 2014; John Cook’s PhD research; forthcoming papers from the Yale/GMU climate comm people.

    Some of these speak to the role of perceived consensus as a gateway belief. Others speak to the efficacy of consensus invocation.

  164. Willard says:

    > You’re presupposing that everyone is making an appeal to authority, and this is flatly, unquestionably false.

    I have no idea what this means. I can tell you that everyone appeals to authorities, including you when you appeal to uncited sources, Peter Jacobs.

    Do you really disbelieve that we appeal to authorities all the time? At the very least, you must admit that you rely on some. Unless you analyzed the content [of] the water you drank this morning?

    To claim that consensus does not function as an authority would be quite absurd. To claim that appealing to any consensus is not an appeal to an authority would require intensive linguistic gymnastics. Even I may not be up to that task.

  165. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “Do you really disbelieve that we appeal to authorities all the time?”

    Perhaps this is a language barrier issue. “Appeal to authority” is a specific type of logical fallacy. I reject that people engage in this “all the time”.

    If you’re asking if people defer to expert agreement as a heuristic, yes, of course. I have said this many times.

    But these two things are not at all equivalent. Not from a logic standpoint, and not from a philosophy of science standpoint.

  166. Willard says:

    Here is how Ding & al 2011’s abstract ends:

    > This suggests the potential importance of correcting the widely held public misperception about lack of scientific agreement on global warming.

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v1/n9/full/nclimate1295.html

    The evidence alluded to earlier is indirect, to say the least.

  167. Joshua says:

    Victor –

    ==> “That two intelligent guys with a good grasp of how science works can (initially) overstate the strength of their case so enormously increases my respect for the non-abusive “sceptics”.”

    I’m not following you here. Are you saying I overstated my case enormously? If so, could you be specific?

    ==> “But I guess the discussion did get us somewhere. (And that is different from a discussion with a “sceptic”.) We now know there is no empirical evidence that consensus messaging in not effective and that there is no convincing real-life evidence that it is effective. I hope that that is a fair summary.”

    As far as I understand the evidence, yes, I think that’s a fair summary. I suppose Kahan might disagree. I’m not sure if Dana or Robert agrees – as they seem to think that their evidence of the effectiveness of consensus messaging = “real life” evidence.

    Related to that, some of the studies that have been referred to show a negative association between a (what I agree is an inaccurately low) misperception of the prevalence of expert opinion and certainty about the magnitude and cause of warming. I don’t doubt that such an association exists; what I doubt are the conclusions about the related direction of causality and perhaps, the best way to address that association in the real world.

    ==> “Personally, I will stick for now with the little evidence there is. If only because I prefer to speak the truth and the truth is that there is a consensus on the basics of climate change.”

    Maybe I’m misreading you here – but this goes back to my noting how your earlier question changed from the first phrasing to the second. I’m ‘not suggesting that people not speak the truth about the prevalence of views among scientists, and I’m certainly not suggesting that anyone lie about it.

  168. Willard says:

    > Perhaps this is a language barrier issue. “Appeal to authority” is a specific type of logical fallacy. I reject that people engage in this “all the time”.

    Appealing to an authority is not always invalid. We don’t even know under what conditions such an appeal is valid or not. Douglas Walton worked on this all his life without reaching anything conclusive. I quoted Dan Kahan’s opinion earlier on this matter. There is lots [of] research on trust, authority, social networks, etc.

    The implicit prejudice seems to be: appeals to authority are bad because my philosophy teachers told me so. The same misconception seems to be manifest in Dana’s “but I’m not polarizing when I tell people they’re DK idiots, they’re just a minor minority of extremists anyway,” paraphrasing of course. Own your god damn shtick, pretty please with sugar on it.

    I need to go shopping.

  169. Joshua says:

    Peter:

    ==> “Joshua writes: “in response, I have had my motivations impugned”

    By who?”

    I don’t want to get into a handbag fight. I already highlighted what I was referring to earlier in the thread. I whined – so maybe it isn’t fair to then not follow-on with specifics, but if you’re interested you could go back and re-read the thread; I think that it was obvious and the person who impugned my motivations should know what I was referring to. If he wants to walk it back, I’m game.

    Blog commenters impugning my motivations happens a lot, and in general, motivation-impugning is a prominent feature of climate blog discussion threads and Interenet discussion threads more generally.

    It bothers me when it happens in this context, not because I take it personally, or because I find it unusual, but because I would prefer that “realists” leave that kind of fallacious engagement to the “skeptics.”

  170. Peter Jacobs says:

    I should also add van der Linden 2014 to that list.

    Willard writes: “The evidence alluded to earlier is indirect, to say the least.”

    Are we going to play the game where we try to hunt through the typically-tempered language of scientific publications in order to downplay the significance of their findings? C’mon. We can do better than that.

    Joshua writes: “the best way to address that association in the real world.”

    You keep using that phrase, “in the real world”. Why? Are you saying that you don’t believe social science research that depends on controlled experiments?

    This is something that Kahan alluded to in conversation once. The irony (given the nature of his own studies) was apparently lost on him.

  171. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “Appealing to an authority is not always invalid.”

    You are jumping back and forth between the phrase as it’s commonly used (a logical fallacy) and using it as a stand-in for deference to expert agreement.

    When you say “Appeals to authority are appeals to authority, whether they come from the advertising industry, from activists like Dana and John, or desinformers like Willard Tony” and post links to tobacco industry propaganda, you’re using the phrase in the fallacious sense. Or at least I can find no other way for your comments to make sense.

    John Cook doesn’t advocate the fallacious invocation of appeal to authority. He says “Hey, the social science points out that people use perceived agreement as a heuristic to shape their positions, rather than directly assessing evidence themselves. That makes sense. We can also see that perception of consensus on climate is way lower than the real level of agreement. Even among those who should be ideologically predisposed to accept the consensus. Hey, I wonder if conveying the consensus will increase perceived scientific agreement, and affect those knock on beliefs. It looks like it does. We should do that, and try a bunch of other stuff too. Throw another shrimp on the barbie.”

    Of course when you redefine what other people are ostensibly doing to mean whatever you want, you can accuse them of whatever you want. That might work for you here, but it has no bearing on what is actually happening in the real world. In the real world, the logical fallacy of appeals to authority and the research being done on consensus messaging are not remotely the same.

    Enjoy your shopping!

  172. Ian Forrester says:

    Nero didn’t fiddle while Rome burned he was arguing with his philosophers, probably about whether it is better to feed the lions or starve them before being put in with the scientists oops Christians.

    Thank goodness we have some realists such as Steve Bloom, Andy Skuce, Arthur Smith, Dana and Peter Jacobs on this thread. The deniers must be just laughing their heads off when they read this thread.

  173. matt says:

    “We now know there is no empirical evidence that consensus messaging in not effective and that there is no convincing real-life evidence that it is effective.”

    I’d agree. If Kahan disagrees (I actually doubt he would) he certainly didn’t prove it here*. Just weak evidence and speculation (but that is ok, its a blog). If he actually has a paper on this, I would love to know as I generally find his work pretty convincing and interesting.

    * http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2014/6/17/messaging-scientific-consensus-ruminations-on-the-external-v.html

  174. Ian,

    The deniers must be just laughing their heads off when they read this thread.

    Possibly, but I’m not sure that makes any difference. Although this thread has been a little fractious, I’ve certainly learned some things, so I’m hoping others will leave with a similar view, even if no agreement is actually reached.

  175. Willard says:

    > there is no empirical evidence that consensus messaging in not effective

    Trying to prove a negative existential is tough. Does it mean trying to prove a double negation is twice tougher?

    This ClimateBall line looks a lot like the fallacy of arguing that we don’t have evidence about future impacts of AGW. It misconstrues the notion of evidence, and dodges that Kahan has plenty of evidence about cultural cognition. As a bonus, it reverses the burden of proof. What’s not to like about it?

  176. Willard says:

    > You are jumping back and forth between the phrase as it’s commonly used (a logical fallacy) and using it as a stand-in for deference to expert agreement.

    Show me one instance when I used it as a synonym of a logical fallacy.

    If you can’t, apologize.

  177. Florinator says:

    Am I banned because of being a sock-puppet even though I’m not?

  178. Willard says:

    > Thank goodness we have some realists such as Steve Bloom, Andy Skuce, Arthur Smith, Dana and Peter Jacobs on this thread.

    Join the bandwagon!

  179. dana1981 says:

    Peter has made an important point here:

    It’s interesting. John Cook and the Yale/GMU folks, and the AAAS people, and all of the other groups that use consensus messaging happily talk about using many different messages to reach many different people. Consensus just happens to be one of them, and it’s definitely not the only one that any of them use. Critics of consensus messaging, on the other hand, pay lip service to saying that we should try everything. Just not consensus. For reasons.

    The ‘consensus messaging’ folks say we should try to address cultural barriers, we should try to inform people about the science, and about the consensus. There’s evidence that all of these things work, especially in combination.

    Then you get Dan Kahan suggesting that we shouldn’t try consensus messaging because he believes it’s polarizing. And people who listen to Kahan say the same thing. But there’s really no evidence for it.

    Joshua says,

    I’m not sure if Dana or Robert agrees – as they seem to think that their evidence of the effectiveness of consensus messaging = “real life” evidence.

    Social science research is done via controlled experiments, as Peter has noted. If you’re going to say there’s no “real life evidence”, I think you need to explain what “real life evidence” would look like and how we would identify it.

    Kahan has argued there’s no “real life evidence” because consensus messaging hasn’t worked. I think that’s a bad argument. For example, how do we know perception of the consensus and acceptance of AGW wouldn’t have been lower in the absence of consensus messaging? There’s just no way to know that. Arguing against conensus messaging by saying there’s no “real life evidence” is the fallacy of impossible expectations. It’s setting the bar so high that it can never be reached.

    I would agree that we can’t identify “real world evidence” that consensus messaging works, but I don’t think that’s a useful point. On the other hand, there is controlled experimental evidence that it works. I think throwing out good data because it doesn’t meet impossible expectations is a really bad idea.

  180. It misconstrues the notion of evidence, and dodges that Kahan has plenty of evidence about cultural cognition.

    Here’s my understanding from this thread. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Kahan has plenty of evidence about cultural cognition and this supports the view that consensus messaging can be polarising. However, those who study consensus messaging suggest that it is effective at increasing the fraction of people who accept its existence (i.e., there is strong agreement within the expert scientific community). These positions do not seem inconsistent. Consensus messaging can be both effective and polarising at the same time.

    Given that, and given that consensus messaging is illustrating something that many would regard as self-evidently true, I find it hard to argue that it should not be one of the strategies used to communicate our current understanding of climate science.

  181. Florinator,

    Am I banned because of being a sock-puppet even though I’m not?

    No, but if you want to comment, please either write a comment, or ask a question. Posting quotes from other sites with “Hmmmm” added is just tedious. And, given that you seem unsure as to why you were asked as to whether or not you are a sock puppet – you appear to be using a tor proxy.

  182. Willard says:

    I just read this:

    > When you say “Appeals to authority are appeals to authority, whether they come from the advertising industry, from activists like Dana and John, or desinformers like Willard Tony” and post links to tobacco industry propaganda, you’re using the phrase in the fallacious sense.

    Not at all. For here’s the paragraph that follows the quote:

    In the post Dana kindly provided without showing any evidence to have read, there is a guest appearance by Mike Hulme who argues that appeals to authority are illegitimate. Dan Kahan disagrees, and considers that authority can legitimately be invoked and seeked after. As far as I am concerned, I can lay my cards on the table without relying on authority, if that’s one of the ground rules. It’s cumbersome, but I guess I could manage, although I wonder how Hulme would fare without being able to cite. Storytelling would be enough for what I have to say.

    That clearly implies that I don’t adequate appeals to authority to fallacies. It clearly states my relativist stance regarding fallacy matters. To me, fallacies are ground rules.

    I also said:

    I can tell you that everyone appeals to authorities […]

    Unless we argue that everyone uses fallacious arguments, this use does not reduce appeals to authority to fallacies.

    ***

    You’re just reacting badly because “97% of scientists believe in the AGW consensus” has the same form as “9 doctors out of 10 prefer Camels,” Peter. They’re both appeals to authorities. The best you can argue is that one is valid and one is not, in contradiction of Mike Hulme’s claim and in agreement with Dan Kahan, ironically.

    Deal with it.

  183. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “The same misconception seems to be manifest in Dana’s “but I’m not polarizing when I tell people they’re DK idiots, they’re just a minor minority of extremists anyway,” paraphrasing of course. Own your god damn shtick, pretty please with sugar on it.”

    You’re not paraphrasing, you’re strawmanning. Or perhaps you don’t realize that you’re strawmanning, and you are just grossly misunderstanding.

    When someone claims consensus message is polarizing, what they typically mean (in my experience) is that it will be ineffective or backfire with conservatives/Republicans. Kahan seems to believe this is the case, though he also has (to the best of my knowledge) steadfastly resisted any and all attempts to actually have him join in experimentally testing this.

    But this assumed polarization is not what we find. Some experiments find consensus messaging works better for liberals than conservatives, other studies have found it works the same or even better with conservatives. But they all find that it increases overall perception of consensus, even among conservatives.

    In a few experiments, there is a backfire effect, amongst the most extreme conservatives. But this effect is absent in other experiments. It’s not robust.

    So when Dana says consensus messaging isn’t polarizing, it only offends a tiny fringe, he is not trying to have it both ways. He is discriminating between the overall effect on conservatives (increases their perception of consensus, what many people would characterize as not polarizing) vs. the possible backfire amongst the lunatic fringe (polarizing).

    Now, we can could try to suss out what’s really going on in either one of two ways. We could wank about it endlessly in the comments section of a blog, where we can play “gotcha” about imagined misstatements as though these rhetorical jousts really meant something. “I caught Dana in what I think is a bad argument- I win for the day!” Or we could design experiments to test what the evidence shows.

    People are doing the latter. Their results don’t affirm the gut instincts and linguistic masturbation on display here. Funny, that.

  184. matt says:

    >”Kahan has plenty of evidence about cultural cognition.”

    Yep, I haven’t heard anyone argue otherwise. His views on consensus messaging do not follow.

    Read the post I linked above. Do you think he made a strong case? Many ppl who seem to respect his work don’t.

  185. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “You’re just reacting badly because “97% of scientists believe in the AGW consensus” has the same form as “9 doctors out of 10 prefer Camels,” Peter.”

    Not at all. Although it’s awfully cute that you think you can read minds.

    I am very comfortable with distinction between fallacious appeals to authority vs. knowledge-based consensus. That you believe they’re the same is irrelevant and doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

    I will confess to acting badly about something, though. It’s the idea that it’s perfectly fine to trust your gut instead of testing ideas. Or that it’s fine to assume that the little word games you’re playing here are actually reflective of the body of work you’re nominally discussing.

    That, admittedly, makes me react badly.

    “in contradiction of Mike Hulme’s claim and in agreement with Dan Kahan, ironically.”

    There’s nothing ironic about that. I have said from the outset that there is a great deal that Kahan and consensus message advocates agree on. I have cited Kahan in favor of the rationality of deferring to consensus as a heuristic. You tacking “, ironically” onto a statement to make it sound as though this is something that I was not explicitly discussing myself, as though I was actually in agreement with Hulme, doesn’t make any of that true.

  186. dana1981 says:

    ATTP: I’d say your summary is basically right. I’d add an important point: Kahan hasn’t really tested consensus messaging. Actual experiments have found it to be effective and not really polarizing (again, except in some extreme cases among a very small segment of the population). My interpretation of this is that Kahan thinks that according to his theory, consensus messaging should be polarizing; however, according to experimental data, it’s not. I would argue this is a flaw in the theory, while Kahan argues the data are wrong.

    The question then becomes whether you can translate those experimental conditions to the “real world.” For example, whether a person reading a story about the 97% consensus in a newspaper (who’s also exposed to a lot of other information, including anti-consensus messaging) has the same effect as somebody sitting in a room reading experimental text (often conveyed in the form of a newspaper article) summarizing the 97% consensus.

    I would suggest it probably does, but the other “real world” factors may act to negate the effect of the consensus messaging. That doesn’t make consensus messaging ineffective, it means it’s fighting against anti-consensus messaging, and the latter would probably be a lot more effective in the absence of consensus messaging. Basically, consensus messaging works, but it’s insufficient by itself. However, I think the evidence strongly suggests we’d be worse off without consensus messaging, and I don’t think Kahan’s arguments to the contrary are very good.

  187. Willard says:

    > Here’s my understanding from this thread. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Kahan has plenty of evidence about cultural cognition and this supports the view that consensus messaging can be polarising. However, those who study consensus messaging suggest that it is effective at increasing the fraction of people who accept its existence (i.e., there is strong agreement within the expert scientific community). These positions do not seem inconsistent. Consensus messaging can be both effective and polarising at the same time.

    That’s my understanding too. In fact, we could use Kahan’s own study to argue that consensus messaging can work. Since to convince someone it’s easier to target the neighboor, if the neighboor changes his mind because he read about the consensus, chances are it’ll work. On the other hand, the neighboor will have an impact on that someone because of what he does, not what he says. Solar panels get installed because everyone has them; everybody recycle because everybody recycle, etc.

    If that neighboor starts to bug that someone with pamphlets about AGW and Sunday visits like some religious groups that shall remained unnamed, it just won’t work:

    Social norms work with your neighboors, not some random guy who has a column on the Grauniad.

    ***

    > Given that, and given that consensus messaging is illustrating something that many would regard as self-evidently true, I find it hard to argue that it should not be one of the strategies used to communicate our current understanding of climate science.

    The more the merrier is my motto, AT. Concern trolling about effective communication strategies is certainly not my forte. Dan Kahan is certainly showing that he’s fighting for a niche.

    Look. I’ve spent more time defending C13 than Dana probably did. This is certainly true regarding Tol’s criticisms, where I spent at least two months on this. I am agnostic regarding that paper, just like I am agnostic regarding Kahan’s work. In both cases, I will defend them if they’re misrepresented.

    If only ClimateBallers would learn to read.

  188. Willard says:

    > you think you can read minds.

    Reacting badly can be observed. You want evidence, Peter?

    This is getting silly.

  189. Willard says:

    > That you believe they’re the same is irrelevant and doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

    In the same comment about mind-reading, and right after I have shown Peter that his claim about my belief was false.

    This thread is becoming a Christmas gift to the lords of ClimateBall ™.

  190. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “It misconstrues the notion of evidence, and dodges that Kahan has plenty of evidence about cultural cognition.”

    Kahan has experimental evidence. Consensus message advocates have experimental evidence. Only Kahan, and many people parroting him, seem to think that Kahan’s experimental evidence “counts” for some reason, while the experimental evidence in favor of consensus messaging does not.

    This is similar to Kahan’s complaints about consensus messaging experiments that rely on samples of opportunity (as opposed to nationally representative samples), but him being all too happy to point to studies using samples of opportunity that seem to support cultural cognition effects.

    If we do not accept the premise that experimental evidence in social science research counts as “evidence”, then claims that “Kahan has plenty of evidence about cultural cognition” are false.

    ATTP writes: “Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Kahan has plenty of evidence about cultural cognition and this supports the view that consensus messaging can be polarising.”

    “Supports” is doing a lot of work there. He claims that consensus messaging is polarizing, and as “evidence” points to things that are nothing remotely like studies of this purported effect, but rather something as trivial as the fact that the 97% meme was used by a liberal political group. To say that critics of consensus messaging would accept that level of “evidence” if the shoe were on the other foot beggars belief.

    Kahan tests things that superficially sound like he’s testing the polarizing nature of consensus messaging, but when you actually look at what he’s doing, he never really does this. See the study purporting to test consensus that actually tests perceptions of two individual experts. Kahanian alchemy.

    Now, this comes off a little critical of Kahan, so I want to be clear- I respect him, and I definitely think that worldview effects like cultural cognition are real processes that need to be considered in communicating on climate. I disagree that he has made anything like a convincing case on the purported polarization and ineffectuality of consensus messaging, and studies are coming out every few months that indicate he’s wrong.

    Now, perhaps all of these studies are themselves wrong. If that turns out to be the case, I will change my views. I am happy to use whatever works. I don’t have a parental attachment to the concept of consensus messaging. I hope everyone can agree that clinging to a concept in the face of contradictory evidence, even if it is one’s “baby”, isn’t a great way to do science or communications.

  191. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “Reacting badly can be observed. You want evidence, Peter?”

    Sure! Demonstrating causation rather than post hoc ergo propter hoc should be amusing.

  192. Willard says:

    Oh, and since I’m here (not on my tablet), here’s where Dan and Dana meet:

    p.s. Please don’t waste your & readers’ time by posting comments saying (a) that I am arguing there isn’t scientific consensus on issues of practical significance on climate change (I believe there is); (b) that I think it is “unimportant” for the public to know that (it’s critical that that it be able to discern this); or (c) that I am offering up no “alternative” to continuing to rely on a strategy that I say doesn’t work (not true; but if it were– then what? I should nod approvingly if you propose that we all resort to prayer, too?). Not only are none of these things either stated or implied in what I’ve written. They are mistakes that I’ve corrected multiple times (e.g., here, here, here . . .).

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2013/7/27/weekend-update-the-distracting-counterproductive-97-consensu.html

    Here’s where Dan says that he has nothing against consensus messaging in itself:

    Indeed, as I indicated, the particular manner in which the “scientific consensus” trope is used by partisan advocates tends only to deepen the toxic fog of cultural conflict that makes it impossible for ordinary citizens to figure out what the best scientific evidence is.

    Here’s what Dan is looking for:

    [T]ime is running out on the opportunity to formulate a set of genuinely evidence-based strategies for promoting constructive engagement with the IPC’s 5th Assessment, which will be issued in installments beginning this fall. It will offer an authoritative statement of best current evidence on climate change.

    (Notice the concept of “authoritative statement,” Peter.)

    Here’s where Dan is going:

    [T]hose who have dedicated themselves to promoting public engagement with the best available scientific evidence on climate change are not dealing with the admittedly sensitive and challenging task of explaining why it is normal, in this sort of process, to encounter discrepancies between forecasting models and subsequent observations and to adjust the models based on them.

    Only in the last claim does Dan and Dana seem to part ways. Even then, I don’t see why this should not be part of consensus messaging.

    I’m quite sure Dan can be convinced by empirical evidence about consensus messaging, whatever that means.

    ***

    Yet another round of ClimateBall ™ based on reading one past another.

  193. Steve Bloom says:

    Brigitte: “we all know that science is not based on consensus”

    Odd to see you saying such a thing at this stage. Consensus is an occasional consequence of science, and I don’t think anyone promoting the climate science consensus misunderstands that. But perhaps you can point to an example?

    Willard: “suggests”

    Ooh, mocking standard scientist-speak. Yes, Kahan’s rhetoric is far more firm. Could it be that it’s because his training is as a lawyer, not a scientist?

    Can’t resist: “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.”

    Joshua: I certainly didn’t question your motivations. I do make fun of you from time to time for (sometimes) constructing poor arguments. That you’re sincere in doing so doesn’t make them less poor.

  194. Good, then it seems like we all agree by now and some are just a little argumentative today (might include me) or unclear in their expression.

    Joshua: “I’m not following you here. Are you saying I overstated my case enormously? If so, could you be specific?”

    Forgive me if I do not go back the entire list of comments, but I thought you had stated that there was empirical evidence for the position of Kahan that consensus messaging is not effective because it is polarizing. Whereas, apparently, he only has arguments why he thinks so.

    Especially when it comes to social science, or anything that has to do with humans, I do not value arguments that much and value evidence a lot more. When media report on human science results, there are often people commenting that the results are obvious and doing this kind of research is a waste of money. However, I would guess that in most cases there same people would have written the same thing had the evidence been reversed. Almost everything is possible when dealing with humans and rationalisation are so easy to find.

    Joshua: “I’m ‘not suggesting that people not speak the truth about the prevalence of views among scientists, and I’m certainly not suggesting that anyone lie about it.”

    So you see consensus messaging as counter productive, but that is only an inconvenient truth and no reason not to tell people that there is a consensus? Otherwise I am lost about your original position. But maybe we should focus on the future. It is almost Christmas after all.

    Happy Christmas everyone.

  195. Willard says:

    > Sure!

    Here you go:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/peter-doran-on-the-97/#comment-40811

    You want more? Just ask.

    Oh, and you forgot to admit that “reacting” was a behavioral concept, and that there was no mind probing involved.

    Thanks for playing.

  196. Willard says:

    > Ooh, mocking standard scientist-speak. Yes, Kahan’s rhetoric is far more firm.

    That was from Ding & al 2011, SteveB. Please read harder.

    I was not mocking standard scientist-speak, BTW. I was underlining that Peter Jacobs might exagerate a bit the immediacy of the evidence he attributes to “Consensus message advocates.”

    As if Dan had a kind of evidence, and the “consensus message advocates” had nother kind of evidence.

  197. Willard says:

    “Kotcher & al 2014” seems to refer to:

    Kotcher, J., T. Meyers, E. Maibach, and A. Leiserowitz. 2014. Correcting misperceptions about the scientific consensus on climate change: Exploring the role of providing an explanation for the erroneous belief. In The International Communication Association.

    I got this citation from Cook’s post:

    https://thewinnower.com/discussions/research-on-climate-consensus-provokes-strong-reactions

    ***

    Here is the abstract:

    Nearly all climate scientists are convinced that human-caused climate change is occurring, yet half of Americans do not know or do not believe that a scientific consensus has been reached. That such a large proportion of Americans do not understand that there is a near-unanimous scientific consensus about the basic facts of climate change matters, a lot. This essay briefly explains why, and what climate science societies and individual climate scientists can do to set the record straight.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013EF000226/full

    An editorial commentary. That’s some empirical evidence about the importance of consensus messaging.

    This kind of [hand]waving would not survive more formal contexts, Peter.

    ***

    To which paper is “Lewandosky et al., 2013” supposed to refer, Peter?

  198. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “Here you go”

    What is that supposed to be “evidence” of, exactly? And where is the demonstrated causation?

    “Thanks for playing.”

    Oh, Willard. As I’ve suggested repeatedly, you’re playing with *yourself* here.

    I’m happy to discuss the state of play on this issue, not because I think you are going to change your views (that doesn’t seem to be why you’re here), but because I think it’s informative for people like ATTP and Joshua. People who actually want to understand, discuss, get new information, etc.

    “I’m quite sure Dan can be convinced by empirical evidence about consensus messaging”

    I’d like to believe that. We’ll see how he reacts to the papers demonstrating its efficacy that are in the pipeline. My hope is that he accepts them at face value. My fear is that he will try to find some way to discount their results (even using as justification things that apply to his own studies), as he’s been doing so far.

    “Here’s where Dan says that he has nothing against consensus messaging in itself”

    His position on whether the mere act of invoking the consensus is polarizing or not is… fluid. And possibly audience-dependent.

    The way that AAAS has been proposing to use consensus messaging is as non-partisan and innocuous as it gets, and Kahan still had a problem with it. So either we can pretend that Kahan is fine with consensus messaging in theory because he said so on his blog, or we can look at how he reacts to it in practice. Which is overwhelmingly negative, regardless of the source.

    “(Notice the concept of “authoritative statement,” Peter.)”

    I’m curious as to what it is that you think is happening when you toss in these asides that in no way contradict what I’m saying as though they are opposing what I’m saying. Is it that you yourself actually think that they’re contradicting me, or that you hope others will get that incorrect impression, or what?

  199. Steve Bloom says:

    Let’s not forget the context in which these messaging argument arguments take place:

    Media treatment of climate science and its implications is itself a strong anti-consensus message. Reactions along the lines of “if this is really so important we’d be hearing more about it” are entirely natural. That’s what social scientists should be focusing on IMO, and should help make clear why I think Kahan is so far off the mark. Dana alluded to this above, but AFAIK it’s not getting direct attention. In a sense consensus messaging is a way (the only way?) to combat a toxic media environment that is unwilling to give proper attention to the science itself.

    Willard mentions that people recycle because those around them recycle, which alludes to questions I was grappling with 30 years ago. It’s hard to argue with, but is an odd way to put things since it elides the process by which such things get started. Are there lessons for climate there?

    Thanks for weighing in, Peter, I learned a lot from your comments, and also to Arthur for pointing out that the pendulum is now palpably starting to swing back the other way.

  200. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “An editorial commentary.”

    Nope. It describes experiments that demonstrate the effectiveness of consensus messaging. I guess the full paper is not available- I assume it’s getting written up for formal submission to a journal, but this is how its authors cite it in another paper:

    “Fortunately, an effective, nonpolitical response is available to scientists and their professional societies. A recently published Australian study (Lewandowsky et al., 2013)—and a series of studies conducted at research centers in the United States (Maibach et al., 2013; Kotcher et al., 2014)—demonstrates that clear messages that simply state the extent of the scientific consensus can help correct this widespread misperception. In controlled experiments, a single exposure to a message describing the extent of scientific consensus on human-caused climate change (i.e., 97%) significantly increased participants’ subsequent estimates of the consensus—by as much as 10 to 20 percentage points. Importantly, these simple messages were most effective with the very people who are currently the least likely to understand the scientific consensus: political conservatives.”

    It’s really a two-fer. Consensus efficacy and non-polarizing.

    “That’s some empirical evidence about the importance of consensus messaging.”

    It turns out that it is, actually! That’s the benefit of actually knowing what you’re talking about instead of assuming that arguing about it on the internet means you do.

  201. Steve Bloom says:

    Willard, you completely missed my point, which is that scientists often use terms like “suggest” even when they’re quite sure about their results. It’s necessary to delve into the particular content to see how sure they really are. Lawyers have a different culture and terminology. Kahan seems to me to spend a bit too much time pounding on the table.

  202. Willard says:

    > People who actually want to understand, discuss, get new information, etc.

    More mind reading, Peter? Keep them coming!

    You forgot to acknowledge that you did react badly.

    You still have to acknowledge that “reacting” was a behavioral concept

    You still have to acknowledge your misreading of “appeal to authority” which started this food fight.

    ***

    I think I found Lew & al 2013:

    The present samples, though clearly more heterogeneous than undergraduate participants, cannot necessarily be assumed to be representative of the (Australian) population. The results therefore do not constitute an opinion survey but a cognitive study; any inferences about the general prevalence of the opinions observed here must be made with some caution —although similar methodologies have in the past yielded considerable overlap with representative opinion polls.

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n4/extref/nclimate1720-s1.pdf

    Is that the one?

  203. Joshua says:

    willard –

    Re: growth:

    I/m posting the llink here because Justin Lewis’s talk touches on themes that have been discussed here recently, in particular by Anders and Pekka.

    http://www.alternativeradio.org/collections/latest-programs/products/lewj001

    Unfortunately, you have to pay for the podcast. Some of the arguments, IMO, are less than compelling, but others, IMO, are quite good.

  204. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “I was underlining that Peter Jacobs might exagerate a bit the immediacy of the evidence he attributes to “Consensus message advocates.””

    Or perhaps, just perhaps, you’re letting your desire to disagree with me override your ability to fairly assess the contents of the citations I provided. By playing upon the typically temperate use of sciencese, for example. Or not even bothering to read the paper. Or not even bothering to see if you know what the paper is about before assuming it doesn’t support what I said.

    “As if Dan had a kind of evidence, and the “consensus message advocates” had nother kind of evidence.”

    Yet again, you have this completely backwards. Kahan has experimental and survey data. Consensus message advocates have experimental and survey data. The Kahan supporters seem to believe that Kahan has evidence that “counts” whereas the consensus message advocates don’t, because they’re just social science experiments (as though Kahan’s work isn’t). I have made this point repeatedly. It’s not hard.

    It may turn out that these studies that are piling up showing that consensus perception is important and isn’t polarizing all turn out to be wrong. I will change my views if that’s the case.

    But we can all stop pretending that this is “C13” vs. Kahan, or however you want to phrase it. And there’s no need to leap to the conclusion that I’m being dishonest about the studies I cited.

  205. Eli Rabett says:

    There is not time enough to do without appeals to authority in life, but the real issue is what authority for what question:

    1. Political Orientation
    2. Technical Expertise
    3. Religious and/or Ethical Values

    Each of these is used by each of us. So whom do we trust when there is overlap between authorities we value on specific issues?

    This is the weakness of Kahan’s analysis, that he does not confront, the interplay of each set of authorities with the others.

    Scientists are in an interesting position. IEHO we really can understand any viewpoint about what should be done if the consensus technical analysis is granted respect. Oh yea, a bit of funding too. There be sharks out there that need watching.

  206. Steve Bloom says:

    Eli’s comment reminds me to emphasize that the media amount to an authority network, arguably the most important one.

  207. Joshua says:

    Victor –

    ===> “Forgive me if I do not go back the entire list of comments, but I thought you had stated that there was empirical evidence for the position of Kahan that consensus messaging is not effective because it is polarizing.”

    WTF?? Really??? In four of the first seven comments I made on this thread…

    Joshua says:
    December 22, 2014 at 4:39 pm
    I think that Kahan over-estimates the counter-effectiveness of consensus messaging, just as some “realists” over-estimate the effectiveness of it.

    and

    Joshua says:
    December 22, 2014 at 4:52 pm
    …. I’m not convinced that consensus messaging about a highly polarized issue – like climate change – might not be effective,

    and

    Joshua says:
    December 22, 2014 at 5:00 pm
    …I agree with all of that. I’m not arguing that it is significantly ineffective or counterproductive,

    and

    Joshua says:
    December 22, 2014 at 10:44 pm
    …I could be wrong about this, but near as I can recall, he doesn’t have evidence of a net effect of increased polarization as the result of consensus messaging

    I won’t bother going through the rest.

    What I find very frustrating is to find “realists” making the same kinds of arguments I typically find at “skeptical” websites. I keep repeating my argument and I keep presented with straw men to address. This aren’t such complicated concepts that the differences between what I’ve said and how you’ve characterized what I said aren’t obvious. That is why I pointed out, very specifically, how the way you framed that question changed over time. Please stop.

    Joshua: “I’m ‘not suggesting that people not speak the truth about the prevalence of views among scientists, and I’m certainly not suggesting that anyone lie about it.”

    ==> “So you see consensus messaging as counter productive, but that is only an inconvenient truth and no reason not to tell people that there is a consensus? Otherwise I am lost about your original position. Not sure how to address your confusion except to ask you to read what I’ve written before you try characterizing it.

    Oy.

    ==> “But maybe we should focus on the future. It is almost Christmas after all.

    Happy Christmas everyone.”

    Not that I’m interested in a “war against Christmas,” 🙂 but….I’d appreciated it if you’d address the points I just made. I pretty much asked you to address how you reframed that question to me in a rhetorical fashion, and you didn’t do so.

  208. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “More mind reading, Peter? Keep them coming!”

    Not at all, the desire to learn something has been articulated explicitly by ATTP. If you’re referring to my inference that you’re not here to learn, but rather to play games, that’s not mind-reading. I’m drawing a conclusion based upon what evidence I have available in other fora and this one, including statements like: “Evidence is overrated, especially when we can settle all these things using language and logic.” And explicitly noted that this what appears to be going on, rather than telling you that this is what you think.

    “You forgot to acknowledge that you did react badly.”

    No, in point of fact, I specifically said I did (@5:40PM). You were simply mistaken about the cause. But now you’ve got this part wrong, too.

    “You still have to acknowledge that “reacting” was a behavioral concept”

    Why? I was refuting your claim of causation. Not denying that ‘reacting badly’ was a behavioral concept nor that I was engaging in it.

    “You still have to acknowledge your misreading of “appeal to authority” which started this food fight.”

    I fully acknowledge that I read your use of appeal to authority to be the most common use of that phrase, using it in the context of advocacy, deceptive advertising, and misinformation. I also believe that you might have meant something differently, taking you at your word. Freely acknowledged. It costs me nothing to do so.

  209. Joseph says:

    By virtue of being here, you are an outlier. It is probably not very instructive to try and generalize to the larger public from your own perspective.

    Joshua, don’t you have confidence that your physician is using the consensus based procedures for treating and diagnosing you? Would you have more or less confidence in him, if he used novel procedures that had little to no support in the medical community?

  210. Peter Jacobs says:

    Eli writes: “This is the weakness of Kahan’s analysis, that he does not confront, the interplay of each set of authorities with the others.”

    Or put differently, he has misframed the issue as a competition between the deficit model (just the facts, ma’am!) of communication vs. normative social forces. When in fact, both consensus messaging and filtering via political ideology are powerful normative social forces.

    And if you don’t think the latter is true, explain why creationists are fighting on science’s turf rather than the other way around.

  211. Joshua says:

    Anders – could you please delete my two 7:18 posts. Something weird is going on and I’m trying to post a comment and it doesn’t just wind up in moderation but just disappears into the ethernet.

    Any suggestions?

  212. Joshua,
    Done. Not something that I’m doing, so no suggestions from me.

  213. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    (and Rachel)…still can’t post that other comment for some reason. Moving in another direction:

    ==> ” However, those who study consensus messaging suggest that it is effective at increasing the fraction of people who accept its existence (i.e., there is strong agreement within the expert scientific community).”

    Hmmmm. Yes, some people who study the issue suggest as you say. Some don’t. So I think that your characterization is too broad. Further, I don’t quite get how you get to “strong agreement within the expert community” – “strong agreement” about what?

    ==> “These positions do not seem inconsistent. Consensus messaging can be both effective and polarising at the same time.”

    Perhaps. But that doesn’t speak to whether it actually is effective.

    ==> “Given that, and given that consensus messaging is illustrating something that many would regard as self-evidently true, I find it hard to argue that it should not be one of the strategies used to communicate our current understanding of climate science.”

    IMO, it isn’t that it should not be used so much as questioning whether it is effective, and the follow-on question about opportunity cost.

  214. Joseph says:

    To apply my last comment to climate change . Do you want public policy that spans the globe based on a theory that has broad support in the scientific community or one that is has little support?

  215. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “I think I found Lew & al 2013: Is that the one?”

    Yes, that’s also a two-fer. It describes the cognitive model by which consensus invocation might be working. And it’s also an example of inconsistent standards of evidence (also known as impossible expectations) from Kahan. He rejects the paper for the very passage you chose to highlight (it’s not a nationally representative population sample), but is more than happy to cite such non-representative samples of convenience if they seem to support cultural cognition effects.

    And I will say this, in case it needs to be said. If you (the general “you” as in everyone) look at any one paper and try to poke holes in it, you might be able to convince yourself that there’s no consistent conclusion that emerges from them in toto. Nitpicking sciencese, or ignoring that different papers are analyzing different aspects of the issue rather than all of them making the whole argument from start to finish, etc. These are pretty common ways to refuse to grapple with evidence when it’s being presented.

  216. Joshua, I am sorry, then I must had misunderstood your initial statements, maybe too many double negations would be my only excuse. Or I mixed you up with Willard somehow.

  217. Joshua says:

    Thanks Victor. I can’t fault other people for finding my syntax confusing!

  218. Peter Jacobs says:

    Joshua writes: “Yes, some people who study the issue suggest as you say. Some don’t. So I think that your characterization is too broad. ”

    Who does not?

    “Further, I don’t quite get how you get to “strong agreement within the expert community” – “strong agreement” about what?”

    Agreement that anthropogenic warming is occurring. I.e. perceived scientific consensus. Or perceived expert agreement. Consensus messaging increases public’s perception of the level of scientific consensus. The public’s perception of scientific consensus moderates a host of other beliefs about the issue, from “is it warming” to “is it caused by humans” to “will it affect me” to “should I support policy to do something about it”. That is why we refer to it as a “gateway belief” or mediating belief. If you can move that lever, you move a whole bunch of other rocks.

    “But that doesn’t speak to whether it actually is effective…. it isn’t that it should not be used so much as questioning whether it is effective”

    If you accept that there is evidence for cultural cognition, based on experimental social science work, then you also presumably accept that social science experiments would be able to address this question.

    So, do social science experiments “count” or not?

  219. Joshua,

    IMO, it isn’t that it should not be used so much as questioning whether it is effective, and the follow-on question about opportunity cost.

    Yes, but at this stage there isn’t really any evidence that it isn’t effective.

    I’ll try to articulate an issue I have, and may not do it well. When it comes to science communication, the goal should be to effectively communicate our current understanding and – in some cases – the level of agreement. There will be different styles and methods for different audiences, but the goal will still be broadly the same. When it comes to climate science (or some other similarly contentious topic) it will be difficult to effectively communicate the science to certain groups. It’s possibly that someone could come up with an effective communication strategy, but the problem I have with that is that it runs the risk of turning science communicators into people who are essentially trying to market scientific ideas. That is something that I would feel uncomfortable with.

    There is, IMO, another possibility. If our policy makers decide that we as a society need to understand something like climate science (or smoking, vaccines, GMO) they could certainly start some kind of marketing campaign (horribly pictures on cigarette packets) but that’s no longer science communication, but political leaders trying to get people to understand the risks associated with something.

    It’s possible that part of the issue is that we’re not distinguishing between how best to communicate science (which should be value neutral) and how to communicate risk (which is not).

  220. Joshua says:

    Joseph –

    ==> “Joshua, don’t you have confidence that your physician is using the consensus based procedures for treating and diagnosing you? Would you have more or less confidence in him, if he used novel procedures that had little to no support in the medical community?”

    I don’t consider that to be a parallel situation – because it doesn’t include the kind of ideological polarization that we find with climate change. If there were factors in your analogy that paralleled the kind of polarization that exists with climate change, and that paralleled the identitification-dynamics of the relationship between the doctor speaking and the listener, then I think that the question of the effectiveness of the consensus situation would change.

    I know plenty of people who follow recommendations that have no support in the mainstream medical community, for a variety of reasons. In many of those situations, telling them that the medical community does not support their decisions might have any variety of effects – not change their view at all, making them more likely to follow “consensus” advice, or make them even more likely to reject the mainstream medical advice. Please read the quote from Lewandowsky that I excerpted above.

    ==> “To apply my last comment to climate change . Do you want public policy that spans the globe based on a theory that has broad support in the scientific community or one that is has little support?

    That question doesn’t follow from what I’ve been saying. The relationship between expert opinion and the kinds of policies I want is not related to my arguments. (Am I shouting? Would all caps help?).

    Again, that’s the kind of question I might find at Judith’s.

  221. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “Yes, but at this stage there isn’t really any evidence that it isn’t effective.”

    There is Kahan’s indirect argument that if it were effective we would see different outcomes than what we see. I can’t dismiss that perspective exactly, but I agree that is a logically problematic argument (with the whole counterfactual aspect). Not terribly convincing, IMO.

    ==> “I’ll try to articulate an issue I have, and may not do it well. When it comes to science communication, the goal should be to effectively communicate our current understanding and – in some cases – the level of agreement. There will be different styles and methods for different audiences, but the goal will still be broadly the same. When it comes to climate science (or some other similarly contentious topic) it will be difficult to effectively communicate the science to certain groups. It’s possibly that someone could come up with an effective communication strategy, but the problem I have with that is that it runs the risk of turning science communicators into people who are essentially trying to market scientific ideas. That is something that I would feel uncomfortable with.”

    No disagreement there. I’m not sure, though, that there’s much in the way of a solid alternative. I happen to think that a better framework for dialog (in the model of participatory planning) would be better than what currently takes place, but that is fairly pie-in-the-sky as I don’t see how that kind of framework will be implemented, logistically.

    ==> “It’s possible that part of the issue is that we’re not distinguishing between how best to communicate science (which should be value neutral) and how to communicate risk (which is not).”

    I’m not sure they can be cleanly distinguished…. but certainly the interplay between the two needs to be a consideration. As does the psychology of how identity influences reasoning.

  222. Willard says:

    > He rejects the paper for the very passage you chose to highlight (it’s not a nationally representative population sample), but is more than happy to cite such non-representative samples of convenience if they seem to support cultural cognition effects.

    This “very passage” was taken from Lew & al’s own SI, Peter. What I quoted was some of the caveats for their own study. I also underlined that this was a cognitive study, just like what Kahan does. I could have underlined that the study was not representative (just like C13) for any kind of tangible effect in the social reality. Please explain to Joshua or AT how these caveats help Lew & al reject whatever you are referring to by “the paper.”

    It’s quite easy to demonstrate that consensus claims can work, e.g.:

    Consensus claims are broad declarative statements used in an advertisement purporting that a majority of a certain group of consumers prefer or use the sponsor’s product or service. While consensus claims are frequently used by advertisers, little is known about how they operate or their effectiveness. We utilize attribution theory to provide insight about how consensus claims operate, and to investigate the impact of consensus claims on attributions and brand attitudes. Results suggest consensus claims are an effective advertising strategy, but their persuasive impact varies according to the featured social information and the processing motivation of audience members.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1057740809001259

    ***

    Oh, and please provide evidence that I “believe” that “fallacious appeals to authority” and “knowledge-based consensus” are the same.

    Nice wording to dodge the fact that they’re both appeals to authority, BTW.

  223. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “This “very passage” was taken from Lew & al’s own SI, Peter.”

    Yes. I am aware. I have no idea why you seem to think I don’t understand this. ?

    “Please explain to Joshua or AT how these caveats help Lew & al reject whatever you are referring to by “the paper.””

    I have no idea what you’re trying to say here.

    From my perspective, in your haste to show that I am being lose with my references, you seem to be leaping to conclusions that have little to do with what I am saying. Or in the Kotcher et al. case, what the contents of the study even are.

    If you take together the studies that examine the questions of a) is consensus perception important in mediating beliefs about an environmental issue, and b) can consensus messaging improve perceived consensus, and c) is consensus messaging polarizing, I think that the evidence is pretty self-explanatory and does not accord with Kahan’s opinions.

    I mentioned the sample of opportunity aspect of Lewandowsky because it was something that I brought up earlier today about what evidence Kahan (and supporters) deemed acceptable, and the lack of consistency on that front. It appears as though this point has been turned completely on its head somehow.

  224. Joseph says:

    because it doesn’t include the kind of ideological polarization that we find with climate change.

    I think most people are not ideologically motivated and have very little exposure to climate science. So consensus messaging may not have any impact on ideologically motivated individuals or someone who has a well formed opinion. but I don’t see how you can say it won’t have an impact on the rest.

  225. Joseph says:

    “To apply my last comment to climate change . Do you want public policy that spans the globe based on a theory that has broad support in the scientific community or one that is has little support?

    That question doesn’t follow from what I’ve been saying. The relationship between expert opinion and the kinds of policies I want is not related to my arguments. (Am I shouting? Would all caps help?).

    What is informing the public that there is broad support in the scientific community for AGW, if not consensus messaging. Don’t you think we should get that message out in order to garner support for policies that will do something to address climate change?

  226. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “provide evidence that I “believe” that “fallacious appeals to authority” and “knowledge-based consensus” are the same.”

    And then immediately writes: “they’re both appeals to authority, BTW.”

    The primary meaning of “appeal to authority” is the logical fallacy. If you open up a web browser in Incognito/Private Browsing mode (so that the results aren’t biased by your search history) and google the phrase “appeal to authority”, it is clear that the phrase is normally used in the context of the fallacy.

    As I have said a little while ago, I now believe that you may not understand this. And I believe that even though you were using the phrase in the same context as its sense of a fallacy (i.e. in the context of advocacy, misinformation, deceptive marketing), that you nevertheless did not mean to be using it in its normal sense. I take you at your word.

    I will reiterate that there is a language barrier issue here. Perhaps it is on my end, perhaps it is on yours. But what you’re writing is something like this:

    A) “fallacious appeals to authority” and B) ““knowledge-based consensus” C) “are both appeals to authority”

    But you are objecting to the interpretation that A) and B) are the same, even though they are both C), which you acknowledge and the normal definition of C) is in fact A), which is perhaps where the problem lies.

  227. KR says:

    Joshua – “There is Kahan’s indirect argument that if it were effective we would see different outcomes than what we see.”

    Please don’t forget that the current emphasis/messaging on consensus, in large part due to Doran et al, Cook et al, Oreskes, Anderegg, etc, is taking place in an environment where there has been ongoing (and well funded) anti-consensus messaging as per the Big Tobacco tactics. Most studies seem to show that public opinions regarding climate expert positions _do_ on the whole shift with knowledge about the consensus. There hasn’t been time for a _large_ shift, but the evidence indicates motion – and quite frankly I’m not seeing any evidence to suggest that informing the public about reality has a downside here.

    There’s certainly room to discuss how that consensus is communicated, and what other communication strategies about science in general are workable/informative – but I haven’t seen any reasonable evidence supporting Kahan’s apparent claim that polarization overwhelms education.

    As Republican operative Frank Luntz suggested in 2002:

    “Please keep in mind the following communication recommendations [emphasis added] as you address global warming in general, particularly as Democrats and opinion leaders attack President Bush over Kyoto:

    (1) The scientific debate remains open. Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field….”

    An argument of delay, along with “Emphasize the importance of ‘acting only with _all_ the facts in hand’ and ‘making the right decision, not the quick decision’.”

    [ Luntz also pointed out that “‘Climate change’ is less frightening than ‘global warming’.”, incidentally, which makes certain denialist cries about ‘climate change’ terminology rather amusing. ]

    This is all part and parcel with the “sound science” mantra as developed by tobacco companies – claim there isn’t sufficient information to make decisions, denigrate what we do know (the consensus position), and set moving goalposts and impossible expectations that will _never_ be met.

  228. Willard says:

    > But you are objecting to the interpretation that A) and B) are the same, even though they are both C), which you acknowledge and the normal definition of C) is in fact A), which is perhaps where the problem lies.

    Come on, Peter. It’s quite clear that a consensus claim appeals to an authority.

    Since you like tests, here’s thy Wiki:

    Argument from authority (Latin: argumentum ab auctoritate), also authoritative argument and appeal to authority, is a common form of argument which leads to a logical fallacy when misused.

    In informal reasoning, the appeal to authority is a form of argument attempting to establish a statistical syllogism. The appeal to authority relies on an argument of the form:

    A is an authority on a particular topic
    A says something about that topic
    A is probably correct

    Fallacious examples of using the appeal include any appeal to authority used in the context of logical reasoning, and appealing to the position of an authority or authorities to dismiss evidence, as authorities can come to the wrong judgments through error, bias, dishonesty, or falling prey to groupthink. Thus, the appeal to authority is not a generally reliable argument for establishing facts.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority

    Now, please return to Lew & al 2013.

  229. Joseph says:

    I think this Yale study below is relevant to our discussion. I think mentioning the consensus in the context of a discussion of what is causing global warming could be useful information for low knowledge people who want to know more. The fact that 75% want to know more suggests that their opinion is not set in stone and more information about the consensus position may lead to a new opinion.

    http://environment.yale.edu/climate-communication/files/ClimateChangeKnowledge2010.pdf

    Americans’ Knowledge of Climate Change reports results from a national study of what
    Americans understand about how the climate system works, and the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to global warming.The study found that 63 percent of Americans believe that global warming is happening, but many do not understand why. In this assessment,only 8 percent of Americans have knowledge equivalent to an A or B, 40 percent would receive a C or D, and 52 percent would get an F. The study also found important gaps in knowledge and common misconceptions about climate change and the earth system. These misconceptions lead some people to doubt that global warming is happening or that human activities are a major contributor, to misunderstand the causes and therefore the solutions, and to be unaware of the risks. Thus many Americans lack some of the knowledge needed for informed decision making in a democratic society. For example, only:

    57% know that the greenhouse effect refers to gases in the atmosphere
    that trap heat;

    50% of Americans understand that global warming is caused mostly by human activities;

    45% understand that carbon dioxide traps heat from the Earth’s surface;

    25% have ever heard of coral bleaching or ocean acidification. Meanwhile, large majorities incorrectly think that the hole in the ozone layer and aerosol spray cans contribute to global warming, leading many to incorrectly conclude that banning aerosol spray cans or stopping rockets from punching holes in the ozone layer are viable solutions. However, many Americans do understand that emissions from cars and trucks and the burning of fossil fuels contribute to global warming, and that a transition to renewable energy sources is an important solution. In addition, despite the recent controversies over “climategate” and the 2007 IPCC report, this study
    finds that Americans trust scientists and scientific organizations far more than any other source of
    information about global warming.

    Americans also recognize their own limited understanding of the issue. Only 1 in 10 say that they are“very well informed” about climate change, and 75 percent say they would like to know more
    .
    Likewise, 75 percent say that schools should teach our children about climate change and 68 percent would welcome a national program to teach Americans about the issue.

  230. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “It’s quite clear that a consensus claim appeals to an authority.”

    I have no idea what else you want me to say. I believe that the initial miscommunication arose from you using the phrase “appeal to authority” to mean something *other* than the fallacy, even though the fallacy is its normal meaning. I read your initial use as referring to the fallacy. Because that it is what the phrase normally refers to. And the context in which you brought it up was misinformation, advocacy, and deceptive advertising. I now (and have for some time now) accept that this (invoking the fallacy) is not what you intended. So what’s the problem here? If you believe that the miscommunication arose from some other problem, by all means, describe it.

    “Now, please return to Lew & al 2013.”

    Sure. I am still waiting for you to explain why you think I didn’t know that you were quoting from its SI.

    Or, for that matter, whether you are going to admit to your spectacular self-immolation on Kotcher et al. Not that you were insinuating dishonesty on my part, so much as I’m curious as to your ability to back down from a ludicrous position.

  231. Eli Rabett says:

    Willard wrote:

    It’s quite clear that a consensus claim appeals to an authority.

    Wrong. it’s a DESCRIPTION of an authority, which is why the denialists try continually to tear climate science and scientists down.

  232. Peter Jacobs says:

    I’ve got some work to get done. I’ll check back in a bit.

    It sounds like people are now more or less agreed on some basics:

    – the evidence in favor of consensus messaging does not reside solely in self-references to C13

    – various studies have identified that a) consensus is a gateway belief for other key beliefs about environmental problems (including climate), including policy support; b) consensus perception among the public is much lower than the actual level of scientific agreement, *even among those who should be ideologically predisposed* to believe the correct level; c) consensus messaging changes the level of perceived scientific consensus in experimental studies, and d) the overall effect on conservatives is not polarizing- in some cases a small backfire amongst the most conservative was found, in other cases no such backfire was found; and in some cases consensus messaging is more successful among conservatives rather than less.

    – cultural cognition is a real effect (among many forms of self-image preservation)

    – framing to avoid tripping defenses rooted in self-image preservation, or alternatively to invoke them positively, is probably a good idea

    – there is no silver bullet for climate communications, and consensus messaging cannot solve everything; multi-channel messaging is necessary

    – critics of consensus messaging have attacked it regardless of its (a)political context and the lack of solid evidence for polarization, which undermines claims that they do not object to it in theory

  233. Willard says:

    > Wrong. it’s a DESCRIPTION of an authority,

    Descriptions can be used as arguments, Eli. It depends upon context. Cases matter too.

    Here is one relevant example:

    The debate is over. There is an overwhelmingband growing consensus that AGW is real.

    http://theconsensusproject.com

    Looks like an argument to me. Perhaps we ought to ask Lew’s undergraduates, to make sure we do another study that lacks representativity.

    Peter’s arguing about stuff that he does not seem to want to actually read the literature on. Some might argue that it’s not a great way to learn, etc.

  234. izen says:

    Those who question the existence, significance and specific meaning of the consensus in climate science are doing the rhetorical equivalent of suggesting that you are still beating your wife.

    The appropriate response is not to declare loudly as a key part of your scientific position that you definitely do not beat your wife.

    Those that are convinced you do, won’t believe you, those uncertain will find the emphasis suspicious.

    That it is seen as an effective strategy for changing public views is a measure of how polarized the issue of acceptable authority has become in this politicized field.

  235. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “Peter’s arguing about stuff that he does not seem to want to actually read the literature on.”

    Still waiting…

  236. Willard says:

    > Sure. I am still waiting for you to explain why you think I didn’t know that you were quoting from its SI.

    The claim that Lew “rejects the paper for the very passage you chose to highlight” makes little sense, since it does not refer to Dan’s work, but to their own work, which kinda undermines the robustness implied by “consensus messaging”, whatever it means.

    That we don’t even have any precise idea of what “consensus messaging” is after all these comments just adds to the great marvel of scientific communication.

  237. Joshua says:

    ===> “That it is seen as an effective strategy for changing public views ”

    Oy.

  238. Willard says:

    > Still waiting…

    There are citations on the Wiki page. I mentioned Douglas Walton. Most critical thinking books mention that most fallacies borrow forms that may be accepted as valid arguments, and that appeals to authority, even if valid, are oftentimes weak arguments.

    In return, so far Peter handwaved to stuff for which he has provided exactly zero link. A Spartan pedagogy, perhaps.

  239. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “Perhaps we ought to ask Lew’s undergraduates”

    To be clear, Lewandosky’s sample was a sample of opportunity, but it wasn’t a survey of undergraduates (which are another type of non-rationally representative sample), but rather pedestrians on the street. “Lewandowsky’s undergraduates” is a null set.

    The point, which I introduced a full hour (5:55PM) before you had even begun to discuss Lewandowsky et al. 2013, was that Kahan has been happy to cite non-nationally representative studies (using Welsh psychology undergraduates, by Adam Corner, IIRC) when they seem to support cultural cognition, but has attacked Lewandosky et al. 2013 for not being a nationally-representative sample.

    “The claim that Lew “rejects the paper for the very passage you chose to highlight” makes little sense, since it does not refer to Dan’s work, but to their own work, which kinda undermining the robustness implied by “consensus messaging”, whatever it means.”

    You’re wildly confused. Kahan rejected the Lewandosky study for not being a nationally representative sample. Despite having no such objections to studies with other non-representative samples when they support his views. Kahan. Not Lewandosky. Kahan. Clear?

    “That we don’t even have any precise idea of what ‘consensus messaging’ is after all these comments just adds to the great marvel of scientific communication.”

    Who is “we” in that formulation? Might it be perhaps that the people performing the experiments actually do? And that those who are interested in what those messaging efforts were can find out?

    So far you’ve tried to play Curry with one reference (Ding), completely misunderstood an issue with a second (Lewandowsky), and completely misunderstood the entire content of another (Kotcher), sarcastically implying it did not do exactly what it does.

    Something something ‘not reading the literature’ something something…

    What is your goal here? You asked for citations, and instead of trying to read them at face value, you seem to be going out of your way to read them in the most hostile, least straightforward way possible.

  240. Peter Jacobs says:

    non-nationally, not non-rationally. Oy.

  241. Peter Jacobs says:

    There are citations on the Wiki page. I wasn’t asking for citations on non-fallacious uses of the phrase ‘appeal to authority’. I was waiting on your bizarre comments about Lewandosky et al., which turn out to be driven by your complete misunderstanding of something I have discussed repeatedly in this thread (Kahan’s rejection of Lewandosky’s study due to its sample composition).

    And waiting on your explanation for why you chose to assume that the Kotcher citation didn’t do what it actually does, namely empirically test the efficacy of consensus messaging (and finding no polarization to boot). If you can’t find the study, you could just ask for clarification instead of assuming the worst. Perhaps someone in this thread could help you out, by providing examples of how it’s cited in other papers. Perhaps someone who knows the author, and who was familiar with its content.

    Nah, that’d be crazy, right?

  242. Willard says:

    > but has attacked Lewandosky et al. 2013 for not being a nationally-representative sample.

    Citation needed.

  243. Willard says:

    > And waiting on your explanation for why you chose to assume that the Kotcher citation didn’t do what it actually does, namely empirically test the efficacy of consensus messaging

    Hold on a second. Tracking back.

    OK. The commentary. I thought it referred to unaccessible research preented in conferences.

    Let me check again.

    ***

    I did not get that the “he” in “he rejects e&,” referred to Kahan. I thought it referred to what the author himself was doing. My apologies.

  244. Willard says:

    Wait. That’s not Kotcher I cited earlier, but this one, from all the authors of Kotcher et al except Kotcher:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013EF000226/full

    It cites Kotcher et al 2014:

    Kotcher, J., T. Myers, E. Maibach, and A. Leiserowitz (2014), Correcting misperceptions about the scientific consensus on climate change: Exploring the role of providing an alternative explanation for the erroneous belief, paper presented at the International Communication Association Annual Meeting, Seattle, Wash.

    Where is Kotcher et al 2014?

  245. Joshua says:

    KR –

    ==> “Please don’t forget that the current emphasis/messaging on consensus, in large part due to Doran et al, Cook et al, Oreskes, Anderegg, etc, is taking place in an environment where there has been ongoing (and well funded) anti-consensus messaging as per the Big Tobacco tactics. Most studies seem to show that public opinions regarding climate expert positions _do_ on the whole shift with knowledge about the consensus.”

    I haven’t forgotten that. In fact, I have addressed it explicitly.

    ==> ” There hasn’t been time for a _large_ shift, but the evidence indicates motion”

    What evidence? Motion in what?

    ==> “and quite frankly I’m not seeing any evidence to suggest that informing the public about reality has a downside here.”

    I’m really not sure how many times I have to address the same freakin’ point before people responding as if I haven’t addressed that point. I there some number? Because if so, I could just write one comment that repeats the point X number of times and we can just get it out of the way.

    ==> “There’s certainly room to discuss how that consensus is communicated, and what other communication strategies about science in general are workable/informative – but I haven’t seen any reasonable evidence supporting Kahan’s apparent claim that polarization overwhelms education.”

    Oy.

  246. Willard says:

    > And waiting on your explanation for why you chose to assume that the Kotcher citation didn’t do what it actually does […]

    The article I found was a commentary, void of any testing.

    Is this the immolation I should fear?

  247. BBD says:

    ‘Tis the season:

    The Second Coming

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    Merry Christmas!

  248. BBD says:

    WB Yeats, not me, obvs.

  249. Joshua says:

    Joseph –

    ==> “What is informing the public that there is broad support in the scientific community for AGW, if not consensus messaging. Don’t you think we should get that message out in order to garner support for policies that will do something to address climate change?”

    There has been a rather concerted effort to inform the public that there is broad support in the scientific community for the belief that most recent warming is attributable to ACO2 emissions, and that the rate of warming represents a risk going forward. An explicit effort to Increase the public awareness of some precise quantification of the level of support (as opposed to simply that there is broad support) might be helpful, but I don’t see evidence that it has been so far (tough to evaluate because it requires evaluating counterfactuals). I also think that increasing public awareness of the broad level of support is complicated…not something that is easily accomplished, and IMO, not likely accomplished by “consensus messaging,” particularly when it comes through channels that are easily placed into preexisting ideological frameworks, and in particular if it is done through rhetoric that is likewise, easily placed into ideological frameworks.

    While I don’t agree with the speculation about how current consensus messaging is counterproductive, it does seem to me that consensus messaging won’t change much of anything and that as such, there may well be “opportunity cost.” I would think that more focus on efforts in line with stakeholder dialog in participatory democracy would be more effective. I think that focusing more on how people perceive and react to risk would be more effective.

    Certainly, as the list you gave in your 9:59 post indicates, awareness of the prevalence of opinion among experts is a very vexing problem to address. IMO, with climate change (or other polarized issues), information campaigns that focus on a “knowledge deficit” are not, in general, particularly effective for a variety of structural reasons. I happen to think that addressing those structural components would likely bear more fruit.

  250. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “Citation needed.”

    He said this to me explicitly in a face to face discussion. ScienceOnline 2013 conference in Washington, DC. And he has done so to other people involved in climate messaging, though I am not going to speak on their behalf.

    “I did not get that the “he” in “he rejects e&,” referred to Kahan. I thought it referred to what the author himself was doing. My apologies.”

    No worries. We all make mistakes. I just would rather you don’t start from the assumption that I’m wrong and try to work back from that conclusion.

    “That’s not Kotcher I cited earlier, but this one, from all the authors of Kotcher et al except Kotcher:”

    Right, so they are citing it as

    “Fortunately, an effective, nonpolitical response is available to scientists and their professional societies. A recently published Australian study (Lewandowsky et al., 2013)—and a series of studies conducted at research centers in the United States (Maibach et al., 2013; Kotcher et al., 2014)—demonstrates that clear messages that simply state the extent of the scientific consensus can help correct this widespread misperception. In controlled experiments, a single exposure to a message describing the extent of scientific consensus on human-caused climate change (i.e., 97%) significantly increased participants’ subsequent estimates of the consensus—by as much as 10 to 20 percentage points. Importantly, these simple messages were most effective with the very people who are currently the least likely to understand the scientific consensus: political conservatives.”

    So either they don’t know what their own paper says, they are engaged in misconduct by misrepresenting their references, or perhaps- and this might sound crazy- Kotcher et al. does what they say it does?

    Meaning, it does what I said it does. How crazy would that be, huh?

    “Where is Kotcher et al 2014?”

    I have a copy for personal use. I’m not going to torpedo its publication prospects by publicly posting it.* There is a lot more that I could be citing in support of consensus messaging efficacy and non-polarization that I can’t more specifically cite for similar concerns. It will be a lot clearer in the not too distant future.

    *I assume that because it’s been cited in demonstration of the claims I quoted above, merely verifying that this is what the paper says won’t hurt it’s chances:


  251. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “The article I found was a commentary, void of any testing.”

    I have a comment stuck in moderation.

    “Is this the immolation I should fear?”

    You should fear jumping to conclusions based on absence of information, yes. Hopefully my comment will show up soon.

  252. Joshua says:

    Joseph –

    Meant to say this…

    Certainly, as the list you gave in your 9:59 post indicates, [a lack of] awareness of the prevalence of opinion among experts along with a lack of awareness related to a whole host of other issues related to climate change is a very vexing problem to address.

  253. “Hopefully my comment will show up soon.”

    Probably not. The two moderators an in the UK where it is night.

    This might be a good occasion for a time out so that people can start anew and tomorrow try to make this into a productive discussion about effective communication strategies, rather than a very unproductive game of climateball.

  254. Joshua says:

    I’m ready to move on and put this one in the rear-view mirror.

  255. Willard says:

    > You should fear jumping to conclusions based on absence of information […]

    The conclusion I reached was by reading an article I cited and from which I quoted the abstract.

    I’d rather say that my conclusions were based on incorrect information than missing information.

  256. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “The conclusion I reached was by reading an article I cited and from which I quoted the abstract.

    I’d rather say that my conclusions were based on incorrect information than missing information.”

    You had information from me, correct information, about the contents of the paper.

    Faced with the choice of either assuming, without having read it, that the paper was what I was saying it was, or alternatively assuming it was not, you chose to assume that I was either wrong or misrepresenting the contents of the paper.

    Why?

    If you reread the entirety of our dialog, and start from the position that I am discussing things with you in good faith, and that I am neither dishonest nor incompetent, your treatment of me is a little strange, is it not?

  257. Willard says:

    > Why?

    I never presumed you were incompetent or dishonest, Peter. I really thought that the article I found was the right one, and you did not correct me. Here’s why I acted the way I did, nevertheless. It’s Christmas soon, after all.

    First, because you started by exhorting us to read in the most obnoxious manner; meanwhile, you did not giving one single URL to back up anything you said. I’m still waiting for a citation about where Kahan rejects Lew. Second, I saw only two threads where you commented at Dan’s, and I have a soft spot for bitching in one’s back. Third, we still have no idea what “consensus messaging” means, and no, priming a bunch of Aussie pedestrians (sorry about the “undergraduates”, I was reading the SI) only shows we’re far from having the faintest idea how to “message” the consensus properly.

    As far as your faith is concerned, please reread your first comments in the thread, especially the first two ones you addressed to me. If that does not suffice, please reread all the other ones, and take note of every time you portray me as not commenting in good faith. You misunderstood my comment about “language and logic,” BTW, among many others, but your scatter shot comments did not give me the chance to respond to them.

    Also take note of all the personal attacks in our exchange, and by whom. No, I don’t find your treatment of me a little strange. I’ve played with fiercer ClimateBall ™ players. I’ve played some ClimateBall ™ for C13 too, probably more than you ever did, most of the times to correct misrepresentations against it. I did this as some kind of experiment: I wanted to know if I could coax people to provide constructive criticisms:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/89473861449

    That said, I did notice that Lew spoke of a “consensus among climate scientists (97% agreement)” [1] which is not what C13 found.

    Anyway.

    Merry Christmas!

    [1] http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n4/full/nclimate1720.html#t2

  258. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “I really thought that the article I found was the right one, and you did not correct me.”

    Actually, I did. But you appear to have missed it. Probably because every few comments of mine are getting hung up in moderation.

    “First, because you started by exhorting us to read in the most obnoxious manner;”

    It might seem obnoxious to you. Okay, I can appreciate that. Failing to do one’s own due diligence is obnoxious to me. I saw a lot misconceptions about consensus messaging, Kahan’s work, and Dana’s point about polarization. And as far as I can tell, the only person in the thread who appears to have read any study remotely relevant to Dana’s point was Dana.

    And the “da konsensus” stuff? I mean, what is the intent behind that signaling?

    “meanwhile, you did not giving one single URL to back up anything you said.”

    Well, first- I noticed I was getting caught in moderation. A lot. So I didn’t really feel like delaying my comments further. Because secondly, it’s not incumbent on me to handhold someone through this stuff. If I was giving a public presentation or a lecture to students, I would spoonfeed them whatever they need. But instead, I was interacting with a bunch of people with internet access who I assumed, perhaps naively, would be capable of a Google Scholar or Web of Science search on their own.

    Now, in my defense, the instant I was asked for references, I provided them.

    “I’m still waiting for a citation about where Kahan rejects Lew.”

    @12:21AM

    “Second, I saw only two threads where you commented at Dan’s, and I have a soft spot for bitching in one’s back.”

    Does this mean “behind Kahan’s back”? I have vigorously discussed this issue with Kahan face to face. Not virtually, but literally. I wish I could do so more often.

    “Third, we still have no idea what “consensus messaging” means”

    Who is “we” in this formulation? Do you think I don’t? Do you think Lewandowsky, Cook, Maibach, Leiserowitz, Kotcher, van der Linden, and the other people actively testing this stuff do not?

    If *you* don’t have an idea, we can fix that. Maybe by you doing some research. Maybe by you asking some questions. However you best want to resolve that, let’s do it.

    “and no, priming a bunch of Aussie pedestrians… only shows we’re far from having the faintest idea how to “message” the consensus properly.”

    So the issue isn’t really that “we have no idea what consensus messaging means”, but rather that you’re concerned with which messaging techniques might be most successful (or “proper”).

    Like, do people respond better to metaphors about doctors and consensus, for example? Or engineers and bridges? Or maybe pairing messages about the consensus with explanations about misinformation, or media false balance? Or maybe graphic representations, like a pie graph, or 100 little figures color coded 97-3? Or maybe each of these has different levels of efficacy with different audiences (derived from nationally-representative samples)?

    That sounds like stuff people might want to test. In fact, that sounds a lot like stuff that people have tested. Like Kotcher et al., 2014, or van der Linden 2014, for example.

    “As far as your faith is concerned, please reread your first comments in the thread, especially the first two ones you addressed to me.”

    I think you’re arguing in good faith, but that you’re under the mistaken impression that if you point out some purported flaw in someone’s argument or logic, that means they’re wrong. As you were doing with Dana. But in fact the error was not in Dana’s comment, but in your misunderstanding of what he was saying and that he is supported by the available evidence. And I think that this orientation to evidence frees you from having to do your homework.

    I think I made my perception of your value of rhetoric over evidence, clear. You say I’m wrong, and I accept that. I apologize for misunderstanding you. I was at least trying to make my perspective plain rather than obscured.

    “I’ve played with fiercer ClimateBall ™ players.”

    I don’t really care? I don’t mean to sound rude. I understand you think this is meaningful. I don’t. Maybe it is. Evidence would go a long way in persuading me.

    “I’ve played some ClimateBall ™ for C13 too, probably more than you ever did”

    Now, that’s an interesting nest of assumptions, isn’t it?

    “That said, I did notice that when Lew speaks of a “consensus among climate scientists (97% agreement)” [1] which is not what C13 found.”

    He if by “Lew” you mean Lewandowsky et al., 2013, that predated Cook et al., 2013. It was presumably referring to DZ09 or A10.

  259. Peter Jacobs says:

    Oh, and Merry Christmas, Willard. And everyone else.

    Nice talking with you.

  260. L Hamilton says:

    Peter, thanks for taking time to explain, this has clarified things for me.

    From your description it sounds as if consensus messaging might have an interaction (multiplicative) effect with prior beliefs (or politics, worldview etc.). Has that been formally tested? The education*politics interaction has been replicated now on more than 3 dozen large-sample surveys (I’m not exaggerating), and similar-flavored interactions shown using a variety of climate-belief dependent variables, different politics/worldview indicators, and objectively-measured science literacy, numerical literacy, or self-assessed understanding in place of education — I’m thinking that consensus messaging could take that place too. Here’s a recent example from Hamilton & Saito 2015:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=http://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/files/2014/12/teaparty3.png&w=1484
    Kahan’s data show patterns like this too, though I think he interprets them differently.

    Education (or science literacy, or “understanding,” or ?consensus messaging?) in such graphs demonstrates both ACC belief-enhancing and a polarizing effect at the same time, there’s no contradiction.

  261. Eli Rabett says:

    Much blather predicated on the single right answer folly.

  262. izen says:

    I have been unable to think of a real world example of the power of an expert consensus to change public opinion.

    Those intellectually uninterested and emotionally uninvested in an issue may use System 1 type thinking, simple heuristic rules, to accede to the appeal to authority and accept the mainstream consensus view.
    The conformity manoeuvre.

    But as the issues of Homeopathy and tobacco use show, those with a personal interest or cultural bias will use System 2 analytical thinking to reject or ignore the import of the expert agreement.

    Even when the medical consensus was widely recognised, in the face of stiff opposition from the tobacco industry, the argument was still made that the consensus that smoking was harmful did not make HOW harmful more certain.
    There is still uncertainty about the degree of future risk/damage even if there is a scientific consensus that it will do damage.
    Pointing out this inherent uncertainty might be a way for some scientists to curry favor with the industry.

    As is clear from the popularity of Homeopathy, the expert consensus is only a convincing argument to those not engaged in the issue or who have already abandoned the cultural/political/economic biases that would otherwise cause them to dismiss or reject it.
    Consensus is only a convincing argument after people have abandoned the cultural biases that designate acceptable authority/

    Meanwhile, while some still think it effective to declare that all is harmony and agreement in the climate science household, some still claim to have seen your wife with bruises and suggest you do protest too much….

    http://www.populartechnology.net/2014/12/97-articles-refuting-97-consensus.html

    Seasons Greetings!

  263. Peter Jacobs says:

    Hi “izen”!

    “I have been unable to think of a real world example of the power of an expert consensus to change public opinion.”

    Oh, cool. So you think that most people believe that cigarettes aren’t harmful?

    “Those intellectually uninterested”

    Actually, I think Willard’s link is a better description. First and foremost, perceived consensus matters a lot. If you’re actively looking, whether or not you think the people conveying the consensus are your betters matters. If you’re not actively looking for new info, whether or not you think the people conveying the consensus are your immediate equals matters.

    Consensus perception and perceived in-group status have significant interactions.

    “Meanwhile, while some still think it effective to declare that all is harmony and agreement in the climate science household, some still claim to have seen your wife with bruises and suggest you do protest too much….

    [link to Andrew Khan’s house of absurdly laughable nonsense]

    Oh, never mind. You are indeed a special snowflake. And you matter a great deal. Keep up your important work.

    *pats head*

  264. Steve Bloom says:

    Sure, Joshua. But maybe summarize what you’ve learned first.

  265. Rachel M says:

    Oh look, it’s snowing! Global warming must be a hoax 🙂

  266. BBD says:

    Quite so, Rachel.

    Now we can all stop worrying and go to the pub.

  267. izen says:

    @-Peter Jacobs
    “Oh, cool. So you think that most people believe that cigarettes aren’t harmful?”

    That rather makes my point, of course most people believe that cigarettes are harmful in accordance with mainstream medical expert opinion. Smoking is still commonplace, regulation (other than for taxation) is minimal. Has anywhere other than Australia introduced plain packaging?

    The extent to which that consensus is driving both individual choice and social/political policy would not seem to be significant. The expert medical consensus on tobacco smoking has been around for a few decades, it is clearly not an immediate or effective means of changing individual and political behavior.

    “First and foremost, perceived consensus matters a lot. If you’re actively looking, whether or not you think the people conveying the consensus are your betters matters.”

    In the case of Homeopathy the perceived consensus is well established. Those favoring an ineffective treatment may well think medical experts are their betters, but do not accept that overrides their belief in a benefit. They may even see the consensus as part of a conspiracy on the part of mainstream medicine.
    Given the past history of Big Pharma economics distorting the research and marketing of medical treatments, such a response is difficult to overcome.
    Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there ISN’T a conspiracy out to get you!

    @-“Consensus perception and perceived in-group status have significant interactions.”

    I think this is just restating the point I made, the power of a consensus depends on the in-group status of the authority that claims the consensus. It is never a convincing argument to those with objections to the legitimacy of the source.

    Thank you for the ‘head pat’ but it has failed to help elicit any past examples of consensus being an important or effective issue in shaping general public or political action.

  268. Rachel, maybe you just moved too close to the North pole?

    izen says: “I have been unable to think of a real world example of the power of an expert consensus to change public opinion.”

    Probably because it is so normal that you hardly notice it. Ozone, acid rain, pollution of the drinking water by manure, safety limits for a large range of chemicals in consumer products, food and water, how robust a house should be to withstand an earthquake, how high the dikes should be to withstand storms and only break once every 10 thousand years, etc.

    Accepting the scientific evidence does not indicate that you should act. Just because smoke is horribly harmful does not mean that any draconian measure to fight should be taken. There are other interests. We also somehow accept that cars kill enormous amounts of people, but we do not deny that they do so. In case of climate change accepting the basic evidence would make an adult conversation possible, it would not mean that politics *has* to decide to stop all emissions tomorrow. There are other interests and different people have different values.

  269. izen,

    That rather makes my point, of course most people believe that cigarettes are harmful in accordance with mainstream medical expert opinion. Smoking is still commonplace, regulation (other than for taxation) is minimal. Has anywhere other than Australia introduced plain packaging?

    This seems to slightly miss (in my view) the point of consensus messaging. It’s simply to get people to accept the scientific position, not necessarily to get the to respond to the risks associated with that position. It’s quite possible that consensus messaging managed to get people to accept that the scientific evidence suggests that cigarette smoking is harmful, but they still decided to smoke (as, I imagine, is indeed the case).

  270. Peter Jacobs says:

    izen writes: “That rather makes my point, of course most people believe that cigarettes are harmful in accordance with mainstream medical expert opinion.”

    izen wrote: “I have been unable to think of a real world example of the power of an expert consensus to change public opinion.”

    You seem to be trying to have it both ways here. A consensus was reached on the dangers of smoking. The public perceived that there was no consensus that smoking was dangerous. Due to decades of outreach, the public’s perception of the scientific view on smoking is closer to scientists’, and their own views on the dangers of smoking, as well as their own smoking habits, have changed. People now believe that smoking causes cancer- they didn’t use to. People also smoke a lot less.

    “Smoking is still commonplace”

    Where is smoking still as commonplace as it was before the consensus was reached and messaging took place?

    “regulation (other than for taxation) is minimal.”

    So you see people smoking in hospitals? Airplanes? School zones? How about advertising on television for cigarettes? Can anyone regardless of age buy cigarettes?

    Do you honestly believe that taxation is the only regulation cigarettes have?

    By the way, I don’t think I initially understood your link to Andrew Kahn before. I took that to mean that you were a climate science denialist, or at least someone who thought that that link was credible. In rereading, I seem to have jumped the gun, and you have my full apology. I still don’t quite understand what point you were trying to make, but in hindsight it doesn’t sound like endorsement necessarily.

  271. Peter Jacobs says:

    Hi Dr. Hamilton,

    That’s a great question. I was discussing it with John Cook at AGU last week. His PhD work was one that found a backfire effect amongst the extreme fringe, but as I’ve said, this hasn’t been replicated in other studies. My question was whether that was because he used a continuum of free market support rather than a categorical self-identification method of determine who was conservative.

    I think that the Yale/GMU surveys might use the latter. And if so, the reason that they might not find such an effect is that the tea party signal is dwarfed by the non tea party conservatives, who (per your work) wouldn’t necessarily be expected to show a backfire.

    It would be interesting to see what level of demographic data Maibach and Leiserowitz have, and see if a more apples to apples comparison could be made, to see if we could see the same effect that you have.

  272. izen says:

    @-Peter Jacobs
    ‘Tone’ is difficult to perceive in this medium, your apology is un-needed.
    The point of the Poptech link was to show that consensus messaging is certainly polarizing to the activists at the other end of the issue.
    97% becomes a rhetorical weapon in a tribal conflict with recursive results.
    Its status as an emergent property of the historical evolution of climate science gets lost.

    Medical education has long known the deficiencies of the deficit model.
    Expend large amounts of time and money with direct one-to-one tailored and targeted education sessions to explain to people the risks associated with diet or lifestyle behavior X.
    Or give them a glossy pamphlet with four paras restricted to the core vocab describing the expert agreement about the risks of X and the changes in behavior indicated to avoid those risks.

    Survey before and after and you will find that even the glossy pamphlet converts a population in which 80% claim to be doing X in ignorance of its risks, to one in which over half acknowledge the expert consensus exists.
    The direct educational approach is even better at wiping out the knowledge deficit.

    Less than half act on that information. Often MUCH less than half.
    You have turned a population in which 80% were happily enjoying behavior X to one in which ~80% now do behavior X but are worried and depressed about the risks….
    The resulting cognitive dissonance, judging by the degree of changed behavior, is resolved by dismissing the personal or individual importance or implications of the general information.

    This has implications for any campaign to encourage people to reduce their Carbon footprint.

    @-ATTP
    “It’s quite possible that consensus messaging managed to get people to accept that the scientific evidence suggests that cigarette smoking is harmful, but they still decided to smoke (as, I imagine, is indeed the case).”

    Yes, that is the case.
    Decades of consensus messaging on that and other health issues have not been a key factor in changing individual behavior or political policy.

    Insisting that the scientific consensus should be recognized as fact does not mean that that everyone will interpret that fact as the emergent property of a evolutionary history of material discovery. The consensus is constrained by real-world physical principles.

    Some will see group-think, a herd mentality driven by enviro-idealism or eco-communism.
    In medicine some will culturally rebel against the mainstream – out of principle(!) others may have a justified suspicion of the uncertainty and past variability of what is supposed to be an evidence based treatment consensus. As well as real concerns over the economic distortions of the clinical consensus. The history of recommendations for the safe amount of refined sugar in the diet would be a case study.

    The last time opposition was mounted to the key source of energy and work that had raised the leading world societies to prosperity and power, the warning was of ongoing ethical failure and long term moral damage. Not an incremental material harm. There was a universally agreed moral authority, a source of absolute and infallible consensus.
    Still took decades to outlaw slavery.

  273. izen,

    Decades of consensus messaging on that and other health issues have not been a key factor in changing individual behavior or political policy.

    My view, though, is that it is not the job of physical or social scientists to influence behaviour. If they have a role it is to inform. Of course, people have an individual right to be activists if they wish, but the consensus project (by itself) was simply an attempt to quantify a consensus and to inform people of that consensus. If the public and our policy makers start to take the risks associated with climate science seriously, then they (our policy makers) can decide to fund advertising campaigns, or whatever else might be needed, to try and convince people to change their behaviour. Consensus messaging probably can’t – and shouldn’t – by itself be used to change behaviour, but it can be a step towards people realising that there might be a need to change behaviour.

  274. BBD says:

    What an astonishingly frustrating read parts of this thread are. Here we see another successful language hijack by the deniers. Now ‘consensus’ is becoming tainted in somewhat the same way as ‘sceptic’.

  275. Peter Jacobs says:

    izen writes: “The point of the Poptech link was to show that consensus messaging is certainly polarizing to the activists at the other end of the issue.
    97% becomes a rhetorical weapon in a tribal conflict with recursive results.”

    You’re talking about a fringe within a fringe within a fringe. And to them, the mere existence of a surface instrumental temperature record is antagonistic.

    I do not say “polarizing” here, because I fear that the word is getting diluted to mean something it typically does not when used in a communications and policy context. Namely a split along partisan lines. We don’t have to look at nth step removed proxies for polarization effects in the general public to consensus messaging- we just directly test to see if we find any. And as I have said repeatedly, the evidence for such polarization is incredibly weak. In fact, consensus messaging, at least in some cases, is *more* effective with conservatives rather than less.

    “Medical education has long known the deficiencies of the deficit model.”

    I’m not arguing in favor of a deficit model of communication, and in fact I have repeatedly said that this is incorrect framing of what exactly is going on with consensus messaging. You or Kahan or whoever can claim that consensus messaging is deficit model-based until you’re blue in the face, but that won’t make it true.

    “Decades of consensus messaging on that and other health issues have not been a key factor in changing individual behavior or political policy.”

    With cigarettes, the issue is a little bit more nuanced than that. Because people are literally addicted. Decades of consensus messaging have increased the perception of health risk from smoking. And health risks are the most commonly cited reason for people who attempt to quit smoking.

    And, you know, smoking rates have declined significantly.

    Now, there are a lot of other factors going on, for sure. But you’re making blanket statements that don’t really fit the data. My sense is that this is because you continue to confuse consensus messaging with deficit model communication.

    “The last time opposition was mounted to the key source of energy and work that had raised the leading world societies to prosperity and power, the warning was of ongoing ethical failure and long term moral damage. Not an incremental material harm.

    Still took decades to outlaw slavery.”

    Actually, the last time we (in the US) went through this with the energy system, it was over regulation in response to acid rain. Same science denial. Same claims of economic catastrophe if we tried to do anything about it.

    The Clean Air program has turned out to be the most successful environmental program in history, with benefits not just exceeding costs, but doing so at a much higher level than even its most ardent supporters would have believed.

    “There was a universally agreed moral authority, a source of absolute and infallible consensus”

    This is, of course, absolute bollocks. C’mon.

  276. Joshua says:

    Izen –

    I think there are some problems with using smoking as an example for understanding the effects of consensus-messaging w/r/t climate change.

    The context of identification and related polarization seem to me to be quite different, and the context for risk perception seems quite different.

    Some to me that people are identified vis a vis opinions on climate change in ways that are different than how they are/were (say, a few decades ago) identified w/r/t their views on the danger of smoking. No doubt, there are some people for whom a view on smoking is a significant component of their identity, but it doesn’t seem to me that it is (or was) a number that parallels what we see with climate change.

    Along similar lines, a great deal of the messaging about climate change comes through channels that are identified politically or along “world view” lines (say, the NYT or MSNBC or Fox News). While there was/is some built-in resistance to messaging about smoking due to the channels, it seems to me to be less than with messaging about climate change.

    The risks associated with smoking seem more personal and more proximal at a number of levels. You know people who die from lung cancer. You know smokers who have emphysema. You know people with a smoker’s cough, yellowed fingers. You know people who try to quit and can’t.

  277. izen says:

    @-Victor Venema
    ” Ozone, acid rain, pollution of the drinking water by manure, safety limits for a large range of chemicals in consumer products, food and water, how robust a house should be to withstand an earthquake, how high the dikes should be to withstand storms and only break once every 10 thousand years, etc.”

    I did consider some of those as possible examples of a scientific consensus being a effective factor in determining the public policy and individual choices that are made.
    I could not see a good case to be made for any.
    Even with the additional examples you suggest, regulation often predates expert agreement, water and consumer regulation dates back to pragmatic rules imposed in medieval times.
    Only when the issue has no political, cultural or economic implications does scientific advice become a neutral source of influence.

    @-“In case of climate change accepting the basic evidence would make an adult conversation possible, it would not mean that politics *has* to decide to stop all emissions tomorrow. There are other interests and different people have different values.”

    Accepting that there IS a scientific consensus on AGW is rather different to accepting the ‘basic evidence’.
    It is the legitimacy of that consensus that is the matter of dispute. As you correctly observe there are other interests and values, not least of which are industry interests that have delayed and manipulated previous regulation of SOx, CFCs Lead etc. irrespective of the scientific consensus, or actively disrupting it.

    As soon as expert agreement is seen as anything other than a neutral player in a dispute about political regulation or personal behavior it becomes a polarizing rhetorical tool.
    Either side can reframe the scientific consensus as a partisan tactic, (anti-vaxers anti-GMO?) but is predominantly a right-wing conservative or big business strategy.

  278. Joshua says:

    I do wonder if communication about 2nd-hand smoking might not be a better example.

    When I first began encountering 2nd-hand smoke damage “skeptics” (SHSDS’s) on-line, I was pretty shocked. After a while, I began to see that SHSDS’s were associated with rightwing political orientation/world-view.

    Here’s my speculation. When the scientific community first started reaching consensus w/r/t the risks posed by SHS, there was a strong, associative effect on public opinion. Over time, the issue became politicized, and as that happened, the effect of “messaging” to the public w/r/t risks lessened. To the extent that SHSDS’s and the larger rightwing messaging machine are successful in making messaging from the scientific community politicized, the effect of “consensus messaging” from the scientific community w/r/t SHS will me reduced.

    A similar observation that I have is the curious situation we had in the U.S. with the comparison in reactions from the public to the risks posed by Avian Flu and Ebola, respectively. My sense is that there was some (relatively small) measure of skepticism on the left w/r/t the medical/scientific community’s reaction to Avian Flu, whereas there was also a ( much more significant) measure of skepticism on the right w/r/t the medical/scientific community’s reaction to Ebola. Seems to me that it isn’t coincidence that confidence in the medical/scientific might vary depending on the party affiliation of the President.

  279. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “The context of identification and related polarization seem to me to be quite different, and the context for risk perception seems quite different.”

    I agree.
    the political and cultural implications of being pro or anti smoking and smoking regulation are not comparable with the cultural identifications and affiliations that are associated with denying AGW.
    Neither are the perceived risks of an individual being a smoker or having a large carbon footprint in any way similar.

    And yet as Eli’s graph of the percentage of smokers posted above shows, there is a persistent trend downward. Unlikely to be a reflection of people newly acquiring the information on a medical consensus.
    But there is also a big disparity in the percentage between nations.
    In a common informational field where the expert consensus has long been established the divergence in cultural attitudes illustrates the dominance of other factors.
    A Plane load of Greeks were once delayed at a Scandinavian airport, minus brass monkeys outside and no smoking at all in the Airport. Mayhem ensures.
    (Grin)

    Perhaps this thread exhibits chaotic growth, bifurcating into two divergent positions.

  280. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “This seems to slightly miss (in my view) the point of consensus messaging. It’s simply to get people to accept the scientific position, not necessarily to get the to respond to the risks associated with that position.”

    I’m not getting why you think there is a point to get people to accept the scientific position if not to get them to respond to risks.

    In looking at some of the abstracts that have been linked, I’ve seen a line of thinking that it seems to me, goes something like this:

    1) There is an association between views on the risks posed by ACO2 and perception of the prevalence of view among experts.

    2) Therefore, one way to change the views on the risks posed by ACO2 by addressing the “information deficit” w/r/t the prevalence of views among experts.

    But I see some problems with that logic. 1) I haven’t seen studies that show where the direction of causality lies in the association between views on the consensus and views on the risks, and 2) if the causality lies in the direction of views on climate change —>>> views on the consensus, how you’re going to reverse the direction of causality through consensus messaging.

  281. matt says:

    Ozone was not a possible example “of a scientific consensus being a effective factor in determining the public policy”. Can you elaborate Izen (that was a pretty good example to me)?

  282. Joshua says:

    Izen –

    One of my favorite photographs that I’ve taken is one from an airport in Italy where I caught about 5 Italians sitting and smoking directly under a no-smoking sign.

  283. Joshua,

    I’m not getting why you think there is a point to get people to accept the scientific position if not to get them to respond to risks.

    Yes, I was being very simplistic, but it seems technically possible for consensus messaging to be effective (i.e., increases the number of people who accept its existence) and yet to have no effect on behaviour (cigarettes are addictive, addressing climate change if too difficult,….). So, I don’t quite see why we can’t separate science communication, which aims to address people’s understanding of science, from communication that aims to get people to understand and respond to the risks associated with some science topic.

    Of course, I accept that the ultimate goal of communicating science is to increase science literacy and hence to get people to recognise what science tells us about the consequences of what we do. However, it’s not clear to me that the goal of science communication is to actually achieve a change in behaviour, it is simply one step in that direction.

  284. BBD says:

    I thought these days the goal of climate science communication was to counteract and dispel misinformation pumped into the public discourse by vested interest. Misinformation including the lie that there exists no strong scientific consensus about AGW. It is now a reactive not a proactive process.

  285. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “So, I don’t quite see why we can’t separate science communication, which aims to address people’s understanding of science, from communication that aims to get people to understand and respond to the risks associated with some science topic.”

    I guess I just think that in this case, they are inextricably linked. That isn’t the case with other issues. So we need to be specific about the context for the question you’re posing – and careful about trying to generalize across the contexts.

  286. Peter Jacobs says:

    “I’m not getting why you think there is a point to get people to accept the scientific position if not to get them to respond to risks.”

    If my neighbor believes the earth is 6,000 years old, does that pose any direct risk? There is a common desire among scientists and science educators to make sure that the public understands what the science actually says, even in the absence of some immediate danger.

    Others might want to see the public align their perception of scientific agreement on the basic facts with the actual level of agreement on the basic facts, because arguing about it precludes more interesting discussions about policy. So, not that there is a specific action that is being sought, but at least a world in which discussing what (if anything) to do is possible.

    And there are others who, perhaps having read the literature on this, see that perceived consensus functions as a gateway belief to a number of other attitudes, including willingness to support policy. So perhaps if I were someone who wanted to see something done about GHG emissions, I would want the public perception of consensus to be high because I know that this translates into a desire for action.

    There are any number of reasons, from general principles about science education to a desire to see a specific outcome, that someone might be concerned about perceived scientific agreement. Each person may be different.

    “But I see some problems with that logic. 1) I haven’t seen studies that show where the direction of causality lies in the association between views on the consensus and views on the risks, and 2) if the causality lies in the direction of views on climate change —>>> views on the consensus, how you’re going to reverse the direction of causality through consensus messaging.”

    This has actually been done a few different times, using both statistical analyses of extant survey data as well as actual experimental testing, and the causation does indeed seem to run through perception of consensus.

  287. matt says:

    Merry Xmas everyone!

    @ Rachel (feel free to delete),

    So jealous of ur white xmas. Perhaps u may appreciate it even more with knowledge of the physics of snowflakes (I do). Here is a nice starting point (although even just looking at the pretty photographs is worthwhile).

    http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/

  288. BBD says:

    Peter Jacobs observes

    perceived consensus functions as a gateway belief to a number of other attitudes, including willingness to support policy.

    Exactly. Perceived consensus. Which is why the contrarians lie vociferously and continuously about the issue and why eg. C13 is a necessary aspect of reactive climate communication.

  289. Joshua says:

    Peter –

    I think that you bring some interesting information to this discussion. But there are a number of characteristics of your tone and overall approach to the discussion that have turned me off from wanting to engage in the direct discussion with you – and at a certain level, even read your comments in much depth.

    The situation could be addressed – but it would start with you re-thinking your approach to the discussion. If you’re interested in exchange of views, I’m game. Way up the thread, I referred to a number of features that were bugging me about the kind of discourse that was taking place. You went through them and dismissed each, basically out of hand. If you’re interested in exchanging views, a place to start would be for you to revisit that little mini-exchange and see if you can come at it from a different angle.

    This thread is actually getting to me more than the typical blogospheric food fight. The thing is, intellectually I have no question that poor argumentation and identity politics are no more characteristic of “skeptics” than they are of “realists,” – but when I get confronted so starkly with that reality, I find it discouraging. Sometimes you just don’t want to watch the sausage being made.

  290. BBD says:

    And once again, Joshua resorts to attempted delegitimisation of his interlocutor when successfully challenged.

  291. izen, yes often expert judgement is accepted so easily that even before a consensus emerges people are willing to act. A part of the experts worrying is often already enough to apply the precautionary principle. The scientific world view is fortunately so powerful that it does not often come to a public “debate” on scientific details and the question whether there is a consensus.

    In many of these cases there are economic forces on both sides of the argument. And the population is the arbiter. In case of climate change we are slowly getting there, with the renewable energy sector gaining political power to counterbalance the fossil fuel industry.

    And in many of these cases are local, the population that has to make changes also benefits from them. In case of climate change, the changes you make mainly benefit others. Many people see helping others as socialism and as a bad thing, especially when they are forced to collaborate and help everyone equally because the state is involved.

    The claim never was that consensus messaging would solve all societal problems. That it is necessary is already quite weird.

    izen: “Accepting that there IS a scientific consensus on AGW is rather different to accepting the ‘basic evidence’.”

    I wanted to emphasis that the scientific consensus on climate change only pertains the basics, but not the details or the impacts.

    Joshua: “I’m not getting why you think there is a point to get people to accept the scientific position if not to get them to respond to risks.”

    There is an intrinsic value, I like living in a society where rational arguments and evidence counts, rather than the irrational ideas coming from authority. And if people accept the evidence that makes an adult conversation possible. A social Darwinist may still like the consequences of climate change, like it that it especially hurts the poor, but then we could negotiate and in return for a carbon tax they could get a few aircraft carriers, tax cuts for the rich or whatever their price is.

  292. Willard says:

    When successfully challenged, BBD?

    Let’s take one of the point Joshua may have in mind:

    This has actually been done a few different times, using both statistical analyses of extant survey data as well as actual experimental testing, and the causation does indeed seem to run through perception of consensus.

    Notice the “this,” which is supposed to refer to:

    1) I haven’t seen studies that show where the direction of causality lies in the association between views on the consensus and views on the risks, and 2) if the causality lies in the direction of views on climate change —>>> views on the consensus, how you’re going to reverse the direction of causality through consensus messaging.”

    Joshua tells Peter he has not seen studies. Peter replies that there are studies.

    Do you think this is a challenge? What success does it achieve? How does this tell anyone about anything?

    You should know by now how Joshua usually reacts to this this kind of authority claim. Do you think that Joshua belongs to the fringe of the fringe of the fringe?

  293. Willard says:

    > There is an intrinsic value, I like living in a society where rational arguments and evidence counts, rather than the irrational ideas coming from authority.

    Rational arguments and evidence can also come from authority. Consensus claims are authority claims.

  294. Joshua, in my perception Peter Jacobs is arguing in a normal rational scientific way, the way I am used to in academia and I see no reason to take offence. I value the good new information he brings into the discussion and would thus appreciate it if he would feel more at home here and come by more often rather than being climateballed. I am surprised at how calm his response is to all the verbal aggression against him and had thus thought he was a senior scientist, I was surprised to see on his homepage that he is still a PhD student.

    Just to let you know that apparently impressions are very different and the friction may not just be blamed on the other.

  295. BBD says:

    Listen to Victor, people.

  296. Joshua says:

    Victor –

    ==> “There is an intrinsic value,…. ”

    Sure. For you, as a scientist, you want to communicate about your craft.

    ==> “… I like living in a society where rational arguments and evidence counts, rather than the irrational ideas coming from authority. ”

    I don’t think that consensus messaging will have much impact on that larger issue (the rationality in how science deals with evidence – such a huge issue!). At best (assuming success in reaching the proximal goal) it might be a drop in the bucket.

    But in the context, it seems to me that for all practical purposes the linkage between consensus messaging and discussion of policy is fixed.

  297. BBD says:

    I don’t think that consensus messaging will have much impact on that larger issue

    Opinion, Willard.

  298. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “Joshua tells Peter he has not seen studies. Peter replies that there are studies.”

    You’re glossing over the fact that I explicitly listed them yesterday. Do I need to re-list them in every comment? I could do so if that’s helpful to people.

    “Do you think that Joshua belongs to the fringe of the fringe of the fringe?”

    In terms of political orientation, contextual clues suggest not. In terms of the amount of time and effort he spends focusing on tone and how he is being treated, it does seem as though he may be a bit of an outlier. 😉

    Joshua,

    I am sorry to hear that you’re “turned off” by my comments and tone. It is indeed a shame if this has caused you to not read them in depth.

    I have to calculate the cost/benefit of potentially losing you as a reader of my comments with the amount of time and effort it would take to try to correctly identify and conform to your preferred tone (I confess, at first glance it’s hard for me to see consistency). I was assuming that you were interested in what the science actually says on this issue, and was banking on the fact that knowledge rather than tone would be more important at the end of the day. If that turns out not to be the case, it’s a pity.

    I am always interested in exchanges of views with people. My “door” so to speak is always open. If you can set aside your dislike for the way in which I come across, I’m happy to chat. Cheers.

  299. BBD says:

    Opinion which stacks on speculation:

    Here’s my speculation. When the scientific community first started reaching consensus w/r/t the risks posed by SHS, there was a strong, associative effect on public opinion. Over time, the issue became politicized, and as that happened, the effect of “messaging” to the public w/r/t risks lessened. To the extent that SHSDS’s and the larger rightwing messaging machine are successful in making messaging from the scientific community politicized, the effect of “consensus messaging” from the scientific community w/r/t SHS will me reduced.

  300. Willard says:

    > Peter Jacobs is arguing in a normal rational scientific way, the way I am used to in academia and I see no reason to take offence.

    Me neither. I am used to passive aggressions like “rather than being climateballed”.

  301. BBD says:

    Draft New Year Resolution proposal for ATTP:

    – Don’t mention the consensus

    – More gin

  302. Joshua says:

    Victor –

    ==> “Just to let you know that apparently impressions are very different and the friction may not just be blamed on the other.”

    Of course. But I laid it out early on and he didn’t respond. I’m really not interested in a handbag fight, but there’s a long list..[paraphrasing some]….”those who worship Kahan,” “if you really value social science”…”if your goal is to improve communication.”…”people actually study the issues…”…”for someone who likes to wank….” …”people parroting Kahan…” explaining to me how people argue on the Internet…

    Take this, more innocuous one…which was actually my favorite:

    You don’t think people like to think of themselves as being on the side of scientific knowledge? Not making an assertion- asking if that is indeed what you are saying.

    Have you stopped beating your wife? Not making an assertion, just asking if that’s what you’re saying?

    —-

    Ok. Handbag fight over. You are certainly entitled to your opinion. But you did make a mistake with me earlier, I think because you were following along with your instinctive response rather than taking a more scientific approach.

  303. Joshua says:

    Can’t resist.

    Here you go, Peter. I made it clear, from my perspective, how the convo might be put onto a better track.

    Here’s what I get in response:

    ==> “I was assuming that you were interested in what the science actually says on this issue, and was banking on the fact that knowledge rather than tone would be more important at the end of the day.”

  304. Peter Jacobs says:

    Joshua,

    I’m happy to exchange views with you. I cannot easily discern any sort of consistent pattern in what you seem to consider a distasteful tone and what you don’t, based on what you choose to (in your words) “whine” about vs. what you choose to ignore.

    So you can set aside that you don’t like the way I come across, you can provide some sort of consistent set of standards that you will hold people to, or you can ignore me. It’s my hope that you do not choose the latter of these, but it’s not up to me.

    Cheers.

  305. Willard, that was not passive aggressive that was a direct request to improve your behaviour, if you want it more explicit. I prefer to debate to improve mutual understanding. You seem to prefer to win a debate. That is the main reason why I try to avoid interacting with you as much as possible, it only takes energy and does not give much. Climate Ball may unfortunately be needed to survive on WUWT and Co, but I feel it is no way to treat a guest who wants to contribute to our understanding at our little smokeless pub.

    And not given references in every comment could also indicate that you are treated as an equal who naturally knows the scientific literature. I also do not give much references when I am talking here. At WUWT and Co. I add more. Doing so, unfortunately, can also come across as lecturing and looking down on the people you are talking with. Catch-22.

  306. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    ==> “Opinion, Willard.

    Of course it’s opinion.

    Is there a reason why you left off what followed – in parentheses, that specified what the “it” was?

    Do you think that someone here is provided anything other than opinion with respect to how to change the rationality in how society (I mistakenly wrote “science” not society in the original phrasing) deals with evidence?

  307. BBD says:

    Joshua

    Consensus messaging isn’t an option but an obligatory reaction to contrarian misinformation.

    Your opinions do not bear on this.

  308. Willard says:

    > You’re glossing over the fact that I explicitly listed them yesterday.

    You also gloss over the facts that you did not mention, even implicitly, that you were referring to them, and that you fail to explain how these studies are supposed to address Joshua’s point, and that you argued by mere contradiction.

    “Explicitly” is a bit far-fetched. Besides, at least half of your cites haven’t been published yet, and L13 uses a formulation that neither DZ09 nor A10 warrants. Here’s another one I found:

    Given the well-documented campaign in the USA to deny the reality and seriousness of anthropogenic climate change (a major goal of which is to “manufacture uncertainty” in the minds of policy-makers and the general public), we examine the influence that perception of the scientific agreement on global warming has on the public’s beliefs about global warming and support for government action to reduce emissions. A recent study by Ding et al. (Nat Clim Chang 1:462–466, 2011) using nationally representative survey data from 2010 finds that misperception of scientific agreement among climate scientists is associated with lower levels of support for climate policy and beliefs that action should be taken to deal with global warming. Our study replicates and extends Ding et al. (Nat Clim Chang 1:462–466, 2011) using nationally representative survey data from March 2012. We generally confirm their findings, suggesting that the crucial role of perceived scientific agreement on views of global warming and support for climate policy is robust. Further, we show that political orientation has a significant influence on perceived scientific agreement, global warming beliefs, and support for government action to reduce emissions. Our results suggest the importance of improving public perception of the scientific agreement on global warming, but in ways that do not trigger or aggravate ideological or partisan divisions.

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-013-0704-9

    The emphasized sentence shows that “consensus messaging” may not suffice to insure non polarization, and that “consensus messaging” studies are far from cautioning every kind of consensus claim.

  309. BBD says:

    Is there a reason why you left off what followed – in parentheses, that specified what the “it” was?

    No.

  310. Maybe this discussion is a good exercise in empathy. It may help to see how a mitigation sceptic feels when debating climate science in the minority position on a science oriented blog. 🙂

  311. BBD says:

    Willard

    We generally confirm their findings, suggesting that the crucial role of perceived scientific agreement on views of global warming and support for climate policy is robust.

    My reading here is that the authors do not say that this necessarily:

    trigger[s] or aggravate[s] ideological or partisan divisions.

  312. Willard says:

    > I prefer to debate to improve mutual understanding. You seem to prefer to win a debate.

    If you can be “a bit more explicit,” it means there was something more tacit, Victor. It’s quite possible to win debates while improving understanding. If you can’t see the aggression Peter committed, may I interest you in reading his first comments in the thread?

    I come from academia too, incidentally. Where do you think I learned ClimateBall? There are lots of studies on this phenomenon.

  313. Joshua says:

    Peter. Not sure how to interpret that last comment. IT seems to me to deliver a mixed message. If we are going to construct a mutual exchange of views, here is the place to start, IMO…

    Again, Kahan (and those who worship Kahan) ignore the experimental evidence showing that consensus messaging increases AGW acceptance across the political spectrum, except in a very small subset of extremely conservative Americans.

    Who worships Kahan? Who, in this discussion, “ignore[s] the experimental evidence….”?

    It continued with this…

    What I care about is actually moving public opinion towards doing something to mitigate AGW.

    Who doesn’t care about “actually moving public opinion towards doing something to mitigate AGW?”

    That’s where it really started to run off the rails, IMO. So if you’re interested in what my standard for consistency might be, we could start there. We could then move on to a few other examples of the sort that you dismissed here:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/peter-doran-on-the-97/#comment-40817

    I hadn’t really made a strong conceptualization of your tone overall approach to the discussion (don’t leave that bolded part off as you have a number of times now – because it’s key) until you made that comment.

  314. Willard says:

    The question is how to “message” the consensus, BBD. Saying to someone that there’s a consensus is one thing. Building a PR strategy on a consensus claim is another thing.

    The very expression “messaging consensus” carries an equivocation that may be at the root of the start of the disagreement between Dana and Dan.

  315. Maybe this discussion is a good exercise in empathy. It may help to see how a mitigation sceptic feels when debating climate science in the minority position on a science oriented blog.

    Yes, and some of this is not unlike the kind of comments I get when on Bishop Hill. FWIW, sometimes people’s tones aren’t ideal when starting a discussion (mine often isn’t) but I find mine changes more if the discussion is constructive, than it does if someone tells me it should be different (even if they have a valid point).

  316. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    “Consensus messaging isn’t an option but an obligatory reaction to contrarian misinformation.

    Your opinions do not bear on this.”

    Just tell me how many times I’ll have to point to what the “it” was, before you address what the “‘it” was?

    Just let me know. I’ll just post one comment explaining it X number of times and we can just get it out of the way.

    Ah. Who am I kidding?

  317. Peter Jacobs says:

    Joshua writes: “If we are going to construct a mutual exchange of views, here is the place to start, IMO…

    That’s where it really started to run off the rails, IMO. ”

    Those are not my comments. ?

    “We could then move on to a few other examples of the sort that you dismissed here”

    Dismissing isn’t at all what I was trying to do. I was trying to sharpen general complaints into something actionable so that you could have your complaints satisfied and the discussion could advance to something more substantive.

    I am happy to exchange views with you. If you want to, great. If you don’t, sorry to hear it. Not trying to send any mixed messages.

    Cheers.

  318. Joshua,
    It does appear that you have mixed up Dana and Peter.

  319. BBD says:

    Joshua

    Just tell me how many times I’ll have to point to what the “it” was, before you address what the “‘it” was?

    Please make your point if you have one. You can quote yourself at any length you wish, so long as you do not do so selectively.

  320. BBD says:

    Willard

    The question is how to “message” the consensus, BBD. Saying to someone that there’s a consensus is one thing. Building a PR strategy on a consensus claim is another thing.

    Again, that is not my reading (at least of this thread). My impression is that Joshua’s opinion is that he doesn’t think pointing to the scientific consensus is helpful at all. Howsoever done.

  321. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “at least half of your cites haven’t been published yet”

    – Ding et al., 2011: published
    – Lewandosky et al., 2013: published
    – Kotcher et al., 2014: he has presented these results publicly, they are discussed in extant literature
    – Aklin and Urpelainen, 2014: published
    – John Cook’s PhD research: he has presented these results publicly
    – van der Linden et al. 2014: published
    – forthcoming papers from the Yale/GMU climate comm people: this is the only one that I can’t redirect people to something describing the results due to its publication stage

    “and L13 uses a formulation that neither DZ09 nor A10 warrants.”

    If you feel this way, please feel free to contact the authors or the journal’s editors and see if you can force a correction.

    “Here’s another one I found”

    I think that their advice is good. As I said, some studies found a small amount of polarization, others have found no polarization, and still others have found consensus messaging works even better on conservatives. I would tend to place more weight, on this specific question, on the experimental results rather than those derived from the survey data. But I completely understand if others don’t.

    “The emphasized sentence shows that “consensus messaging” may not suffice to insure non polarization”

    If you want something that actually demonstrates that point more meaningfully, John Cook’s PhD research, which he has discussed on Kahan’s blog, various conferences, and Skeptical Science, finds some polarization among the far right in experiments. I think if you want to make the case that consensus can be polarizing, you’d score more rhetorical points with that rather than the survey inferences. Not just because it’s experimental, but because it comes from John Cook, so you can throw that in consensus messenger’s faces. Not that this is a sound argument or that it accurately reflects the entirety of the evidence we have, but I think it is a more powerful line of criticism.

    “and that “consensus messaging” studies are far from cautioning every kind of consensus claim.”

    I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here.

  322. Willard says:

    You’re right, AT. Peter only said “Only Kahan, and many people parroting him”. Only Kahan. And many people parroting him. He also called him a “genius” and referred to his work as “alchemy”.

    Since Peter had face-to-faces with Dan, I’d say it’s perfectly fine by me. Scientists play this kind of game all the time, Dan included. They can even use me as a scapegoat for all these forms of mild aggression, for all I care.

    ***

    Every time someone will try to tell me that consensus claim are not authority claims, I will point at this thread. This thread is a textbook example of what authority claims could look like.

    ClimateBall ™ deals with authority issues.

  323. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Not really. My point was that the problematic tone and approach in Dana’s discourse should have been evident. (I do want to note, however, that earlier I missed this comment from Dana:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/peter-doran-on-the-97/#comment-40676

    and it would have been better had I picked up on that one, because I think it was a good one, and further if I had picked up on it and responded to it, I might not have had to explain so many times that I don’t think that Kahan has evidence to demonstrate a significant polarizing effect caused by consensus messaging).

    So the comment from Peter that I just linked led to, which referenced my reaction to Dana, led to my conclusions about his tone and approach to the discussion. In particular, note:

    “We can either accept the merits of social science or not. ”

    Who doesn’t accept the merits of social science?

    ” Claiming that causality can’t be determined when the conclusions go against one’s argument, but happily accepting causality when the conclusions support one’s argument is pointless.”

    Who is selectively accepting explanations of causality?

    “You’re not under any obligation to defend positions that are not your own. If someone attributes a position to you that you don’t believe, tell them that and move on.”

    That fails, IMO, as a defense of repeated straw manning? Telling me that I’m not under obligation to respond? Really? Did I think that I was under obligation to respond?

    “People arguing on the internet often act in ways that are very similar, even though their positions are often in opposition. It probably tells you something about arguing on the internet. It doesn’t say a whole lot about the merits of anyone’s positions.”

    Do I really need an explanation for how people act on the Internet?

    AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!

    At least I haven’t said I wasn’t going to respond any more, only to come back later and respond!

  324. Joshua says:

    Peter –

    ==> ” I was trying to sharpen general complaints into something actionable “…

    I remain dubious that is all you were trying to do. But let’s call it water under the bridge. I generally ask people to walk back previous discouraging statements (if they’ve occurred) as a precursor for opening up to exchange of views. But In this case, I’ve listed enough to be clear for setting some distinctions for what I find discouraging. If more crop up, I’ll mention them.

    ==> “I am happy to exchange views with you. If you want to, great. If you don’t, sorry to hear it. Not trying to send any mixed messages. ”

    Great.

    Now what? Should we discuss the weather?

  325. Peter Jacobs says:

    “Who doesn’t accept the merits of social science?”
    “Who is selectively accepting explanations of causality?”

    People who demand “real world” evidence from consensus messaging but not cultural cognition. People who claim that causality can be determined or inferred in cultural cognition studies but not consensus messaging. When what is accepted is the conclusion only, not the methods of reaching it.

    Some Kahan supporters/consensus messaging critics, in other words.

    This seems pretty straightforward to me. And it doesn’t strike me as particularly offensive or disparaging. Particularly not to you personally. It’s a demand for consistency.

    “Do I really need an explanation for how people act on the Internet?”

    This is a mischaracterization of my point.

    “My point was that the problematic tone and approach in Dana’s discourse should have been evident.”

    It is still not at all “evident” to me why you find Dana’s discourse “problematic” in tone but not, say, Willard’s, who you do not (in your words) “whine” about. Unless, perhaps, it’s a case of in-group vs. out-group standards. In which case, it’s understandable, but I am entirely uninterested in playing along.

    As I’ve said, I am happy to exchange views. You can set aside that you don’t like the way I come across, you can provide some sort of consistent set of standards that you will hold people to, or you can ignore me. It’s my hope that you do not choose the latter of these, but it’s not up to me.

    Cheers.

  326. Joshua says:

    ==> “People who demand “real world” evidence from consensus messaging but not cultural cognition.”

    Oy.

    ==> “It is still not at all “evident” to me why you find Dana’s discourse “problematic” in tone but not, say, Willard’s, who you do not (in your words) “whine” about. ”

    Oy.

  327. Willard says:

    > John Cook’s PhD research: he has presented these results publicly

    Which means he published them, I guess. You don’t even acknowledge that I may have a point.

    I’d rather be able to have a paper in my hand in one click than having to parse the meaning of “to publish.”

    ***

    > If you feel this way, please feel free to contact the authors or the journal’s editors and see if you can force a correction.

    Would I get a pony if I do? You don’t even acknowledge that I do have a point.

    If Lew had any klout left, this would get destroyed in contrarian blogs. So I’d say it’s not up to me to provide room service on this matter.

    ***

    > I think that their advice is good.

    Success!

    ***

    > I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here.

    Something like what you agree about, that not only we need to establish that messaging consensus works (I think it’s a no-brainer), but how it could work as a public outreach strategy.

    Reading back Dana’s link to Dan’s, I stumbled (in the comment thread) upon a proposal for the two teams to work. Can’t find the link, now; it’s the only link Dana provided.

    Is this water under the bridge?

    ***

    Need to go. Back on the 26.

  328. Joshua says:

    ==> “It is still not at all “evident” to me why you find Dana’s discourse “problematic” in tone [notice what is still missing?] but not, say, Willard’s, who you do not (in your words) “whine” about.”

    Ok. Here’s where I say that I’m done.*

    (*Anders – how long do you generally wait between when you say that you’re done and when you come back nonetheless?)

  329. I’m happy for a discussion to continue if those participating are enjoying themselves, but maybe we can remember that this is the internet and that it’s Christmas tomorrow 🙂

  330. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “He also called him a “genius””

    That was someone else. I said his claiming to test the power of consensus but actually letting people pick between 2 experts (rather than almost all vs. almost none) was genius. And I stand by that. It is genius. It’s certainly led to a lot of people assuming he actually tested the power of consensus. I am, completely and wholeheartedly sincere in my awe and admiration for that move. It’s genius.

    “and referred to his work as “alchemy”.”

    I apologize for the figurative language. Is there a less offensive word that conveys the concept of transmutation? I’m happy to use it. I don’t find that offensive, personally. But if others do, I would like to know and I will not use it.

  331. Joshua says:

    BTW – I love the RPJr.-ish*/Willis-ish “cheers..”

    (* As often seen in the form of “When did you stop beating your wife. Thanks!”)

  332. Joshua says:

    Anders – I’m Jewish – and besides, I’m engaged in a “War against Christmas.”

  333. Joshua,

    how long do you generally wait between when you say that you’re done and when you come back nonetheless?

    Normally as long as it takes for the other person to write a comment to which I think I really need to respond 🙂

    I must admit that I’m really confused as to why this discussion has ended up so antagonistic. I’m assuming things have been said that really rile some, but would not necessarily rile me. Maybe this explains some of the issues I have when discussing things on the internet. I seem to rile people without meaning to and then have real trouble drawing it back. I happened to agree with Victor when he said

    in my perception Peter Jacobs is arguing in a normal rational scientific way, the way I am used to in academia and I see no reason to take offence.

  334. Joshua says:

    ==> ” I’m assuming things have been said that really rile some, but would not necessarily rile me.”

    I addressed that to some extent, here.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/peter-doran-on-the-97/#comment-41004

    ==> “I happened to agree with Victor when he said”

    That really surprises and fascinates me. I see a marked distinction between how Peter has approached this discussion and how you generally approach discussion.

    Although I’ve seen you attacked for doing so, I’ve never seen you adopt the sort of stance that Peter did as I described here:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/peter-doran-on-the-97/#comment-41040

    Maybe when you slip every here and there, but not as a distinguishing characteristic. And when I’ve seen you do it, I’ve also seen you accept accountability for having done so.

    Maybe I’ll review the thread later and see something different.

    Anyway, motivated reasoning is really quite remarkable.

    Here’s where we need a social scientist to quantify some evidence. Might I suggest we hire Dan Kahan? 🙂

  335. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard writes: “Which means he published them, I guess. You don’t even acknowledge that I may have a point.”

    If your point is to claim that the publication status matters, as opposed to whether the results are accessible, then I guess you made a point on the publication status.

    I assumed that you actually were making a point about being able to verify that the results conform to what I said they were. In which case, I don’t think you made your point well, no. I may have erred in my assumption. If so, I apologize.

    “I’d rather be able to have a paper in my hand in one click than having to parse the meaning of “to publish.””

    Me too. And I apologize that I cannot share some things with you due to their status. It would strengthen my argument immensely, so I am in agreement.

    “Would I get a pony if I do? You don’t even acknowledge that I do have a point.”

    I thought we were discussing the processes and efficiacy of consensus messaging (and the possibility of polarization). If that is what we are discussing, I do not understand what point you are trying to make.

    “If Lew had any klout left, this would get destroyed in contrarian blogs. So I’d say it’s not up to me to provide room service on this matter.”

    I don’t know what you mean by “klout” here, but I am inferring it to have something to do with climate blogs as opposed to real world academic success. Because as far as I know he has more of the latter now that he ever has. Not appealing to authority, just confused as to your meaning.

    “Success!”

    I am not trying to save face or win an argument. It costs me nothing to agree with someone who may disagree about other matters. I am a pretty happy-go-lucky person (I like to think), and pragmatic (I like to think). At the end of the day, I don’t win any points for any of this, it doesn’t show up on my CV, etc. So I do it when I think I can add value. Being honest when someone has a point is how I hope I am always acting.

    “Something like what you agree about, that not only we need to establish that messaging consensus works (I think it’s a no-brainer), but how it could work as a public outreach strategy.”

    Sure, this is an area of active research. But the evidence we have so far is that even simple messages about the high level of consensus (in text form, or in simple graphics) can influence consensus perception and then knock on beliefs. So, if the idea is that we need to perfect something before implementing, I am more inclined to “experiment as we go”, in the absence of better evidence that this can backfire.

    “Reading back Dana’s link to Dan’s, I stumbled (in the comment thread) upon a proposal for the two teams to work. Can’t find the link, now; it’s the only link Dana provided.

    Is this water under the bridge?”

    As far as I know, this has languished on Kahan’s end. But I don’t think it’s technically dead-dead. A deep vegetative state perhaps.

    “Need to go. Back on the 26.”

    Happy Holidays to you.

  336. Peter Jacobs says:

    Joshua,

    A lichtigin Chanukah or happy secular holidays, as they case may be. I don’t know why I’m rubbing you the wrong way. Hopefully some temporal distance will make my comments seem a bit easier to swallow.

  337. Joseph says:

    It seems to me that anytime you are saying something related to science is an established (or well supported) fact then you are communicating a “consensus” message. I don’t think you necessarily need to quantify it when you say it, but you should make it clear you are saying it is an established fact(or well supported) . For example, greenhouse gases cause warming, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, if we continue to emit CO2 at the current rate we will more likely see damaging consequences due to AGW are all stated as facts but are based on the consensus view.

  338. Joshua says:

    Joseph –

    I agree. And it has proven quite difficult to move the meter on the public’s perception on each of those consensus messages.

    IMO,the reasons why are quite complex, and not likely as much a function of how many times they are repeated, or even how many times people here them, as a function of other factors.

  339. Joseph says:

    Joshua, a majority of Americans consistently support measures to reduce CO2 emissions. And it seems that climate change denial is a lot less prevalent in Europe and China seems to be getting on board. I don’t think all hope is lost.

  340. dana1981 says:

    ATTP observes,

    I must admit that I’m really confused as to why this discussion has ended up so antagonistic.

    Ironically, Dan Kahan seems to be quite polarizing 😉

    My “those who worship Kahan” comment (which I’ll note was not directed at anyone specifically) was made because frankly dealing with the outfall from Kahan’s public comments has been frustrating. He tends to make comments in public that are not supported by his research. The research itself is good, but doesn’t go as far as the comments he often makes in public.

    And so we often get people saying consensus messaging is bad because Kahan says so (sometimes), even though Kahan has never tested consensus messaging, for example. To be clear, I respect Kahan and his work, but I think he tends to promote cultural cognition at the expense of other strategies that are also effective, like consensus messaging and general science communication. Sometimes he admits these are important too, and sometimes he says they’re useless or worse, bad because they’re polarizing (again, with no supporting evidence). It really depends on the audience he’s speaking to.

    As a result, a lot of people get the wrong idea about other messaging strategies that are just not supported by evidence. It’s a “Kahan said so” sort of argument, and hence my characterization of “those who worship Kahan”, which was meant as rather tongue-in-cheek.

    Plus this Climateball junk was starting to drive me nuts for the reasons outlined by Victor, so out of frustration I used that phrase that normally I probably wouldn’t.

  341. izen says:

    Whenever I am told there is an expert consensus on an issue I ask WHY is there an agreement. If this is an appeal to scientific authority where is the published research, the meta-surveys and the historical development of the hypothesis and theories it employs. How well does this consensus mesh with other related aspects of the scientific field. Does it express more certainty about its conclusions, or less.

    I think I might have missed a few twists, but so far we have one group that hold there is an evidence based scientific consensus that consensus messaging is an effective way to alter public opinion. They hold that the direction of causality is experimentally shown to run from accepting the existence of an expert consensus to changing beliefs and behavior about the risks and responses that AGW presents.

    Others doubt that the experimental evidence from social science is strong enough to reach such strong conclusions on the effect and causal direction of consensus messaging.

    I doubt the efficacy of telling people all experts agree, partly because I can think of no clear example when it was effective and not divisive in the past.
    Especially when theological, political or economic interests are opposed to that consensus.

    Besides consensus messaging is a crass appeal to ‘authority’.
    Little different from claiming that 9 out of 10 climate science cats agree AGW is why the climate is going to the dogs.
    (it lowers the tone…grin)

  342. Joshua says:

    Izen –

    I would like to add..if I might…(in brackets and in bold):

    [Joshua] doubt[s] that the experimental evidence from social science is strong enough to reach such strong conclusions on the effect and causal direction of consensus messaging [in the real world].

    I’m not sure whether anyone else is a member of my group (and plus, I wouldn’t be a member of any group that would have me as a member).

  343. Eli Rabett says:

    There is a significant difference between an appeal to one’s own authority and an appeal to the authority of another IF there is good reason to believe that the other is an authority. Thus it is perfectly logical to say X says Y, she is acknowledged by those in the field to have a clue, they know more about Z than poor Eli who is but a bunny. In such an argument, rather than presenting evidence about Z (who has the time to study everything) you are presenting evidence that Y knows about the subject, much easier to do. The response is to show that Y is really Willard Tony in disguise.

  344. Eli Rabett says:

    Eli got his ordinate Y and absicca X mixed up there. Must be the sing along in the next post.

  345. Peter Jacobs says:

    izen,

    You’re are indeed missing a few twists in terms of what’s being argued.

    First, when you say:

    “Whenever I am told there is an expert consensus on an issue I ask WHY is there an agreement. If this is an appeal to scientific authority where is the published research, the meta-surveys and the historical development of the hypothesis and theories it employs. How well does this consensus mesh with other related aspects of the scientific field. Does it express more certainty about its conclusions, or less”

    This might be true for you, but it is not true of the public in the aggregate, and it is not even true of scientists outside of their own field and perhaps a few areas of personal interest. People, scientists included, tend to defer to consensus on scientific issues rather than attempt to adjudicate the relevant evidence themselves.

    That is not to say that there is not something useful in demonstrating that the consensus is trust-worthy, by showing the evidence it’s based on, by demonstrating that it is robust to possible sources of bias, that it’s coming from relevant domains of knowledge, etc. In fact, I presented on exactly this topic at Fall AGU.

    But we have to be clear that while some people may want to have this information, and some might even be persuaded by it being given to them, this is the exception rather than the rule. Most people do not have the temporal or cognitive luxury in drilling this deeply into an issue.

    “so far we have one group that hold there is an evidence based scientific consensus that consensus messaging is an effective way to alter public opinion.”

    I would not phrase this so strongly. There is evidence, convincing evidence from my perspective, that consensus messaging is an effective way to alter public opinion. The balance of available evidence shows that consensus functions in a mediating or gateway fashion for a host of other attitudes. Because we have not really had large-scale implementation of a sustained campaign to promote the consensus in a science-based way (despite claims by Kahan to the contrary), we have to rely on survey and experimental data to indicate whether consensus messaging works or not. The social science work we have suggests it does. If the evidence shifts dramatically, great, but that’s the evidence we have.

    I would not say that there is a consensus that consensus messaging works because I hold the term consensus to a much higher standard. I would say that consensus messaging efficacy is strongly supported by the balance of available social science research.

    “Others doubt that the experimental evidence from social science is strong enough to reach such strong conclusions on the effect and causal direction of consensus messaging.”

    I think there’s a bit of confusion here as well. So for cultural cognition and worldview effects, basic social science work like survey data and experiments are accepted by consensus critics as valid. Whereas these same lines of evidence, when they demonstrate consensus messaging efficacy or a lack of polarization, are suddenly derided as not externally-valid or not “real world” tests. That’s a consistency problem for consensus critics, and it may be a larger criticism of social science including cultural cognition, but it’s not a knock specifically against consensus messaging.

    I also think that some people are misunderstanding the claim of strength for consensus messaging, By saying that the same kinds of evidence that support cultural cognition support consensus messaging, people who strongly support cultural cognition can over-interpret the strength claim of consensus messaging because they are more convinced of cultural cognition than the strength of their evidence probably actually justifies.

    “I doubt the efficacy of telling people all experts agree, partly because I can think of no clear example when it was effective and not divisive in the past.
    Especially when theological, political or economic interests are opposed to that consensus.”

    Perhaps it’s easier for you to imagine the reverse situation. Telling people that experts don’t agree, and see what happens to their attitudes towards a topic. Do you doubt that this would dramatically change the perception of the necessity to address a problem, the severity of a problem, or even that the problem exists?

    “Besides consensus messaging is a crass appeal to ‘authority’.”

    No, it’s a recognition of the way people actually orient themselves to scientific questions in the real world. Consensus doesn’t exist in science without evidence. When people perceive consensus, that’s part and parcel of it.

    “Little different from claiming that 9 out of 10 climate science cats agree AGW is why the climate is going to the dogs.”

    In this example, the relevance of the purported experts is non-existent. That obviously isn’t the case with actual scientific consensus.

  346. Joshua: “That really surprises and fascinates me.”

    That is also why I said it. Otherwise I would agree that it is mostly not fruitful to talk about the tone of the discussion, but I had the feeling that you were unable to see the other side. I do not want to claim that my subjective impression is better, just that this is also a possible interpretation of the way this discussion is going.

  347. Peter Jacobs says:

    Also, in terms of the effect of worldview on consensus perception- if that were indeed so dominant that actual consensus messaging was irrelevant, we would have liberals underestimating the level of consensus by the huge amount that they do. Even if we accept cultural cognition explanations for the differences between liberals and conservatives, according to cultural cognition liberals shouldn’t be so misinformed about the high level of scientific agreement. The real world data don’t fit that worldview-only model.

  348. BBD says:

    Peter Jacobs

    I may be misunderstanding you but did you mean to write:

    Also, in terms of the effect of worldview on consensus perception- if that were indeed so dominant that actual consensus messaging was irrelevant, we would [not] have liberals underestimating the level of consensus by the huge amount that they do.

  349. Steve Bloom says:

    I suppose I’m severely handicapped by real-world experience trying to figure out the most effective way to implement environmental policies, but it seems to me that talking about “consensus messaging” misses the point at the outset. A scientific consensus only exists based on a sufficiency of evidence that has convinced most of the experts in a given field. The resulting consensus is simply the flip side of the coin of all that evidence. Does anyone ever try to construct an educational campaign solely on the existence of a consensus? I don’t think so. That would be ineffective, and who needed Kahan to tell them that? A consensus gets mentioned in the context of elements of the evidence that facilitated ts existence. In my experience, that’s exactly what’s happened with climate, so I remain mystified as to exactly what’s being disputed here.

    Whether the word “consensus” is used or not is independent of the pushback. People who object to the climate science consensus aren’t objecting to the word (since they accept the existence of a consensus on unrelated topics), they’re objecting to it as a shorthand for all that evidence they would prefer not exist. And of course we see that they reject those elements individually as well.

    Ultimately there’s nothing complicated about this.

    Izen, I don’t know how old you are, but having lived through the entirety of the US tobacco “wars” (the initial Surgeon General’s report came out when I was nine) and paid close attention to it throughout, it seems to me that the associated consensus messaging (as noted above mixed in with particulars) has been effective indeed. Fundamental changes take time to percolate through society, as Max Planck noted re relativity and quantum physics requiring generational turnover to bring about the change (and he was talking about physicists, people for whom a techniical inability to understand the material at a deep level was not an issue). So a failure to bring about satisfyingly quick change (on the demanding scale of a human lifetime) isn’t by itself evidence for a failure of messaging that relies in part on the existence of consensus.

  350. L Hamilton says:

    “It would be interesting to see what level of demographic data Maibach and Leiserowitz have, and see if a more apples to apples comparison could be made, to see if we could see the same effect that you have.”

    Peter, we could talk about this offline. I’ve got one paper in the work where we replicate the same model — logit regressions with the same climate-change lhs variable, and same half-dozen background characteristics including that education*politics interaction effect on the rhs — across 33 different surveys. Also have in hand at least a dozen other surveys where similar-flavored interactions occur with nominally different, but functionally interchangeable, proxies for knowledge and worldview.

    With that level of replication you get a strong sense of which patterns are robust, and what I hear at least in some of this cultural vs. consensus discussion sounds like those robust patterns too. They are really quite general (I can show that) but if you see them in isolation with one particular dataset or group of questions they might be given a more specialized explanation.

    Here’s another graphed example, the first of type I believe, adapted from a paper in Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research (2008; to be repeated in a 2015 paper too). Looking at this oddly, someone might think that education itself is polarizing.

  351. Steve Bloom says:

    Ah yes, Christmas, the time to consult the descendants of the Caribs about the many benefits visited upon them by the devout. Oh wait… (Other examples on request.) And as the spectacle of Buddhists rioting in southern Thailand against Muslims demonstrates, religion is a non-denominational excuse for whatever people feel like doing at the time.

  352. Steve Bloom says:

    “promote the consensus in a science-based way”

    Isn’t it more like the other way around? It’s a package in any case.

  353. Steve Bloom says:

    Re BBD’s last, I wonder if there’s evidence that those liberals have a corresponding shortfall in understanding the elements of the science leading to the consensus. I don’t recall seeing anything specific to that issue, although my general expectation would be yes. If so, once again a focus on the consensus is missing the point somewhat. And people’s world-view certainly isn’t gong to be able manufacture those elements, so why should we think that’s possible for the consensus itself given the climate science-starved media environment? Again I’ll note that it’s remarkable how little attention that environment gets from social scientists studying this stuff. It seems to me to be the dominant factor in forming public understanding.

  354. Steve Bloom says:

    Still awaiting that summing up, Joshua. Please demonstrate you’re more than just a tone/concern tr*ll.

  355. Eli Rabett says:

    L. Hamilton, given that most extreme conservatives live in Kansas, that graph is not so much of a surprise. They probably think it a good thing that NYC and SF will be drowned.

  356. izen says:

    @-Peter Jacobs
    “Consensus doesn’t exist in science without evidence. ”

    You may not have been paying attention….

    @-“In this example, the relevance of the purported experts is non-existent. That obviously isn’t the case with actual scientific consensus.”

    Or that could be the very aspect of consensus messaging that is polarizing and in dispute.

    Happy Christmas!

  357. Steve Bloom says:

    Larry, as you know well, education also increases the ability to engage in motivated reasoning at a more sophisticated level. All the people working at those RWNJ think tanks in DC, e.g., are for the most part highly educated. IMO you need economics to explain their behavior, but I don’t see you and the other researchers going there. Maybe you could explain or point to examples I’ve missed.

  358. Steve Bloom says:

    Please don’t just avoid the point, izen.

  359. Peter Jacobs says:

    BBD, yes. I accidentally-d a word there. Not.

  360. L. Hamilton has presented graphs telling that the measured polarization increases with education, but that does not prove that views of individuals get more polarized when they receive more education as it may also tell about a changing influence of selection into groups. It may be that people, who are worried about the climate change (or have the propensity of getting worried) do not usually remain extremely conservative after having received high level education.

    It’s plausible that the highly educated supporters of the tea party or extremely conservative thinking differ also in many ways from the less educated supporters of the same ideologies. There must be studies on that, but my knowledge on the American political scene stops short of knowing anything on that.

  361. Steven Mosher says:

    “While I’d like to see an engineer-level derivation of the first claim, Dan Kahan has an interesting answer to the rhetorical question:

    #############

    there isnt an engineer-level derivation of any observation. I suppose if you wanted to question the claim “scientists dont believe in AGW because of the consensus” a good place to start would be to find a quote from Hansen, for example, where he claimed to believe because everyone else believed. A quote from Tyndall would be most impressive and would seal your victory. Absent any evidence, any self reports that scientists believe

    1. That fossil fuels create excess C02, because other people say so
    2. That C02 is relatively opaque to LWIR because other people say so

    etc

    Absent any evidence whatsoever that they believe these physical truths because others say so, I am willing to take them at their word when they say they believe these things because they are, in fact, true.

    This isn’t something that is derived ( for example the doubling of c02 creating X warming would be a derivation) one doesnt derive observations. One makes them. So I’m wondering why you want a derivation of an observation. I observe that scientists claim to believe in AGW because it is true or the best explanation, not because others told them to. If you observe otherwise, then very cool. You live on a different planet.

    The primary issue I see is that the “consensus message” might only work with certain audiences.
    Like any messaging. Like any message it can backfire ( people who misread it as an appeal to authority) Like any message it can polarize. Like any message it can also work. A rational person who has no knowledge of climate and who is good ( has past success) with picking experts to listen to, may of course be swayed by the message. The message probably works on those who want to believe in the policy but haven’t a clue about the science, until they meet a skeptic. In which case they are unprepared to handle the skeptical disinformation. Of course skepticalscience can come to the rescue. Put another way. SkepticalScience is there in part because “the” consensus “message” isnt a silver bullet or wooden stake. SkepticalScience exists because the consensus message doesnt work for all audiences.

    Let me put this another way. There is no such thing as the consensus message.

    It would be fun to see the reactions of people if Anthony Watts’ name were on Cook’s consensus
    paper. That is, speaker and audience matter in determining what a message is and what a message means.

    Some skeptics of course believe in the consensus. They just happen to believe everyone is wrong.

    Does “the” consensus “message” work? depends. Cook’s message worked with people who already believed in it, with certain notable exceptions. It might work with uncle Joe, if I take an hour to explain it to him. Like all messaging it will have varying degrees of success with various audiences, depending on who delivers it to whom. Contrast it with ‘got milk’.

    A more interesting exercise would be to ask the question.

    1. What audience are we aiming this message at?
    2. Who should deliver it?

  362. Steve Bloom says:

    Eli, you would find the same views rather prevalent on Wall St., despite having recently been flooded by Sandy. We even see occasional examples of it in Silicon Valley, although there I expect most of them just keep their mouths shut in order to avoid being thought fools by too many of their peers. (If JM sees this perhaps he can inform.) Motivated reasoning is powerful stuff.

  363. Joshua says:

    Peter –

    ==> “Also, in terms of the effect of worldview on consensus perception- if that were indeed so dominant that actual consensus messaging was irrelevant, we would have liberals underestimating the level of consensus by the huge amount that they do. Even if we accept cultural cognition explanations for the differences between liberals and conservatives, according to cultural cognition liberals shouldn’t be so misinformed about the high level of scientific agreement. The real world data don’t fit that worldview-only model.”

    I had forgotten that we had exchanged views previously, but I came across this:

    I’ll refer you to an exchange we had over at Kahan’s crib. It started with Dana’s comment in his post:

    ==> “If this is the case, then it would seem information deficit is the driving force behind the liberal consensus gap.”

    To which I responded:

    Seems that the way to test that would be to examine whether or not those liberals would say that they’ve never heard that an “overwhelming consensus” exists, or haven’t heard that often.

    That would seem unlikely to me. Seems to me that the message of an “overwhelming consensus” is ubiquitous.

    Which would mean that something else, other than a lack of hearing that there is an overwhelming “consensus” would explain the “liberal consensus gap.” Maybe they have heard that there is a near-uniform “consensus,” and they’ve heard it often, but still underestimate the degree of the “consensus” Just because they hear that message more doesn’t mean that they will, therefore, adopt a belief that there is an overwhelming “consensus.”

    In a real world setting, (1) they might have been hearing about the degree of consensus from a source they don’t particularly trust and, (2) you can’t control whether or not they hear a contrasting message. If the reason for the “liberal consensus gap” is the widespread publicity attacking the “consensus” notion, you may not move the needle significantly unless you somehow convince Fox News, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, and basically all Republican politicians to somehow stop attacking the “consensus.” Good luck with that.

    To which you gave a rather unresponsive response, which included a straw man that I responded to multiple times in this thread – with little impact:

    Liberals are hearing about the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change from sources that liberals don’t trust? Like who, George Will? 😉

    I thought part of the supposed problem with the 97% consensus message was that it was being used too heavily by liberal groups and thus it was too polarizing?

    To which I responded:

    Peter –

    In reverse order:

    ==> “I thought part of the supposed problem with the 97% consensus message was that it was being used too heavily by liberal groups and thus it was too polarizing?”

    I don’t agree with that argument. I suspect it has little impact in either direction.

    ==> “Liberals are hearing about the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change from sources that liberals don’t trust? Like who, George Will? ;)”

    Heh. Obviously not. But I was referring not to outright distrust (as might be the case with George Will), but to a lack of “particular trust” – in other words a lack of trust to the point where someone would be persuaded merely because someone says that something is true.

    Which led to a side convo with Dana:

    Dana –

    ==> “That’s probably because you’re the kind of person who comments on this blog! Go around asking random people if they’ve heard of the 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming – not just ‘consensus’, which is vague, but 97% consensus. You’ll get a lot of blank stares.”

    Seems to me that these questions would be relatively easy to subject to empirical study.

    My point was not that liberals hear that there is a “97% consensus” per se – but that they have heard many times that there is an overwhelming % of (strong majority of, etc.) climate scientists who think that the anthropogenic contribution to climate change is greater than 50%, (and even further than an overwhelming majority think that the anthropogenic contribution poses a risk for dangerous climate change – which the Cook paper doesn’t speak to directly).

    So then the question would be whether hearing that it isn’t an “overwhelming” or “strong majority” of climate scientist who share that opinion about the contribution of anthropogenic warming, but instead that it is 97%, would have a meaningful impact in the real world. I doubt it. Especially since the message will always be delivered in fora that are not free from the polarization over climate change, and it will always be attacked by “skeptics.”

    To which, as near as I can tell, I heard nothing in response.

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2014/6/20/response-an-externally-valid-approach-to-consensus-messaging-1.html

    ————————

    Further, w/r/t people who “worship Kahan” (thanks for at least addressing that Dana, although I think that your response still could use a dose more of accountability) and who “parrot Kahan,” (you might consider addressing that, Peter) and who don’t hold Kahan’s research to a “real world standard” but expect other researchers to reach that standard (don’t remember who said that, but whoever did might consider responding)

    Check out the first and 3rd comments in this thread:

    [Dan says] ==> “The video has in fact forced her to be become another version of herself. After watching it, she will now deploy her formidable reason and associated powers of recognition to correctly identify the stance to adopt toward the “97% consensus” message that accurately expresses who she is in a world in which the answer to “whose side you are on?””

    I respond:

    I don’t think that she is “forced” to become anything. Maybe I misunderstand you, but it seems to me that you are assigning a questionable causality here. It seems that you are determining that it is, at least in part, the style of the 97% messaging that makes a big difference – which is suggested to me by the extent to which you focus your post on describing stylistic elements.

    I don’t agree. The viewer would reach the same conclusion regardless of the style or the precise content of the messaging – because she will, necessarily, fit any information about climate change into a preexisting taxonomy.

    That isn’t saying that the stylistic elements you described are effective. I don’t think that they are. I think that they make little meaningful difference.

    June 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter Joshua

    And:

    Dan –

    Yeah – I did think of that study as evidence that refutes my point.

    If it is reproducible, and has external validity, then it would suggest that altering content can affect differential outcomes (or how “meaning” is interpreted”).

    And I’m certainly not convinced that there is no way to reproduce the results of your study in the real world, but I do think that it would be tricky. In the real world, how would content, such as that disseminated in your study, be delivered absent any identity aggressive/protective stimuli? What is the vehicle? Obviously not Fox News or MSNBC, or the NYT, or any of those librul/socialist/eco-Nazi/fake consensus-fabricating academics.

    Besides, if that study proved to be reproducible have external validity, I might have to completely restructure my view of the climate wars, and we can’t have that, now can we?

    June 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commente Joshua

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2014/6/18/what-is-the-message-of-real-world-scientific-consensus-messa.html

  364. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    ==> “Still awaiting that summing up, Joshua.”

    ???

    What would you like me to sum up?

  365. A few comments about consensus.

    – What is considered well established scientific knowledge is determined only by the level of perceived scientific consensus

    – I have no doubt on the value of public perception of scientific consensus on opinions of the public about the subject matter of the consensus.

    – Where I remain doubtful are the effects of consensus messaging. If the message is in some way contradictory the the beliefs of an individual, that may lead to many different reactions. One of the possible reactions is a change in the beliefs, but others are less desirable, e.g. increasing distrust in information related to climate change or even science more generally.

    What the reaction is must depend on, how the consensus messaging is done. As I have written earlier in this thread, I have more trust in informing about the subject matter in a way that’s not argumentative, but implies strong consensus without making a special point of that. It’s presented rather as totally evident than argued based on specific evidence.

  366. Joshua says:

    You know – so that I can assure you that I’m not a tone/concern tr*ll?

  367. Joshua says:

    Pekka –

    ==> “What the reaction is must depend on, how the consensus messaging is done.”

    On the one side, yes. But I think on the other side it would depend on the orientation of the listener, and how that listener orients his//her identity vis a vis the source of the information To the degree that the context is polarized, those factors become more salient.

  368. Steve Bloom says:

    Joshua, the reference was to a prior comment where I asked you to state what you’ve learned from this thread. Your 8:40 pm comment is not encouraging in that regard.

  369. izen says:

    @-Steve Bloom
    “… it seems to me that the associated consensus messaging … has been effective indeed. Fundamental changes take time to percolate through society, … So a failure to bring about satisfyingly quick change … isn’t by itself evidence for a failure of messaging that relies in part on the existence of consensus.

    Agreed, I am old enough to have lived through those same slow societal changes.

    I am not denying any role for the paucity of alternative credible scientific views to be a persuasive element in altering public views on risks and altered actions and policy.
    But as you mention there are factors of societal inertia and cultural difference that make it a subsidiary effector. As also indicated by the large cultural differences in attitudes to tobacco use and the risks from CO2 emissions in different nations.

    I agree that consensus is an emergent property, which is why I dislike its reification into a metric used to assert the ‘Truth Value’ of mainstream climate science. It should emerge from the knowledge base, not be asserted as an a prior quality.

    My own experience has been in seeing the immense difficulty in changing both individual actions and public policy whatever strategies of knowledge deficit reduction or cultural engagement may be employed. Bureaucratic inertia and incompetence can defeat even the most malicious or well-meaning conspiracy!

    I am reminded of the joke about the light bulb and psychiatrists.
    The punch line is –
    “But the light bulb really has to WANT to change.”

  370. Joshua,

    Of course it depends also on the listener. All even remotely reasonable approaches have some positive influence on some, but most have also some negative influence on some others. That applies to each message in isolation, but the situation gets much more complex and difficult to judge, when it’s taken into account that any single message may affect also, how later messages are received.

  371. Joshua says:

    I’ll get to it later, Steve. Gonna go work out and make dinner. I know that pales in comparison in term of importance to trying to convince you that I’m not a tone/concern tr*ll – but I’ll get in trouble if I don’t have dinner ready by 6:00.

    If you’d explain what my 8:40 comment makes it obvious what I didn’t learn, I’ll try to respond to that also. Because if there’s one thing that is more important than convincing you that I’m not a tone/concern tr*ll, it’s convincing you that I’m capable of learning.

  372. Steve Bloom says:

    “What the reaction is must depend on, how the consensus messaging is done. As I have written earlier in this thread, I have more trust in informing about the subject matter in a way that’s not argumentative, but implies strong consensus without making a special point of that. It’s presented rather as totally evident than argued based on specific evidence.”

    Exactly. And how often does such a special point get made outside of the context of social science research?

    To quibble a little, one can make an entirely non-contentious (I think argumentative wasn’t quite the correct word) presentation and even so rapidly find oneself in an argument.

  373. BBD says:

    @ Steven Mosher

    1. What audience are we aiming this message at?
    2. Who should deliver it?

    1/ The segment of the public that currently believes that there is not a strong scientific consensus on AGW but particularly the right-leaning subset of that demographic.

    2/ The right-wing media

  374. Steve Bloom says:

    It’s not just me, Joshua. In this thread so far you’ve hammered your credibility pretty badly with lots of people.

    I too have to go right now, but your 8:40 pm comment seems to me to have provided evidence of your having missed in the past similar points to the ones made in this thread.

  375. Joshua says:

    Steve. I had no credibility with you before the thread started. Minimal cred with BBD i would imagine. Given that Victor misunderstood something i said at least six times…Not sure where to go with that. Honestly, the person i care most about here w/r/t view of my credibility is Anders. I like this blog because i respect his approach to exchanging views. I’ll take my chances that even if he disagrees with me on many of the points, and thinks I’ve made bad arguments, and my credibility took a hit or two, it hasn’t cratered in his eyes.

    I can live with that. But thanks for your concern 😊

  376. One thing that we have at least observed in this thread is, how easily discussion gets polarized and antagonistic.

    People do not understand, what others are trying to say for many reasons:

    – The statements are not always clear to anyone, who looks at the matter from a different perspective, from different background on the subject matter, or with a different cultural background.
    – People do not read carefully, what others have written (often that’s too cumbersome due to the length, poor formulation, and number of the messages).
    – When either of the above occurs, the person, who wrote the message blames the reader rather than thinks, how to be more clear.
    – People have prejudices about the commenter.
    – Comments that are perceived as antagonistic (rightly or wrongly) add to all these problems.

    All the above seems to have affected this thread much more that one might have expected.

  377. L Hamilton says:

    “L. Hamilton, given that most extreme conservatives live in Kansas, that graph is not so much of a surprise. They probably think it a good thing that NYC and SF will be drowned.”

    That’s the beauty of having lots of data, so many things can be tested. In the case of the broad pattern I mentioned, it seems to matter surprisingly little what climate-related question you ask (reality? risk? consensus? happening here?), where you ask it, or how you define the knowledge and worldview dimensions. For an example related to Eli’s note, here’s a graph based on surveys of 8 US coastal regions (including Gulf Coast Louisiana and Florida) where we asked whether beach pollution or sea level rise were serious local threats.

    The full paper, not paywalled, is here:
    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08941920.2014.933926

  378. Steve Bloom says:

    “I agree that consensus is an emergent property, which is why I dislike its reification into a metric used to assert the ‘Truth Value’ of mainstream climate science. It should emerge from the knowledge base, not be asserted as an a prior quality.”

    Perhaps ironically, that fits with my assessment of how things have proceeded. I would suggest that any reification has been an avoidable consequence of responding to pushback from deniers. Answering the question “Who says so?” (and I’ve heard deniers say that a lot) requires referring to the consensus, even if with some other term.

    But what’s the lesson here? No one in this thread, or elsewhere as far as I’m aware, is suggesting leading messaging with the consensus, let alone having to be the whole message. I hate to be so crude in the context of a high-minded thread such as this one as to ask for real-world examples of messaging you think is problematic as regards the prominence of the consensus and how you would modify them to be more effective, but I will. Just one would be nice to start with, maybe whatever motivated that video. (Although the point it seems to me to have actually made is that attempts to explain the science underlying the consensus are lost on people. Which leaves us where?)

  379. Steve Bloom says:

    Threats to who, Larry? The more educated (and presumably wealthier on average) can just move away. That explains a lot, I think, as does motivated reasoning based on taxes (as these particular problems lack solutions based on free markets). But I’ll read the paper.

  380. Steve Bloom says:

    In my 9:18 pm, s/b “having *it* be”.

  381. Steve Bloom says:

    This thread has rather more than four readers, Joshua. But if you’re not up to it, fine. As you say, my own assessment of you won’t have changed.

  382. BBD says:

    Joshua

    Minimal cred with BBD i would imagine.

    No, that’s not true. We are different and sometimes we differ.

  383. L Hamilton says:

    “L. Hamilton has presented graphs telling that the measured polarization increases with education, but that does not prove that views of individuals get more polarized when they receive more education”

    Pekka, I certainly agree it does not, and my suggestion to that effect was facetious. My point was rather that this is a very broad pattern, which in some other contexts (separated from the broad pattern) might be read as “something about this question is causing polarization.”

    “It’s plausible that the highly educated supporters of the tea party or extremely conservative thinking differ also in many ways from the less educated supporters of the same ideologies.”

    In our analyses we try to take other factors into account. For example, my first graph above (from Hamilton 2008) is calculated from a logit model that also adjusts for respondent age, gender, income, and 5 different indicators for knowledge — high school science courses, college major, objectively-tested science literacy, a polar knowledge quiz, and self-assessed knowledge. So that “care about sea level rise” vs. education*ideology graphic already controls for these factors.

    Similarly, my second graph above (from Hamilton & Safford 2015) depicts a model that statistically adjusts for individual age, gender and race; for regional unemployment rates, population growth, and resource-based employment; and for otherwise unexplained regional variation due to “everything else.”

  384. izen says:

    @-Steve Bloom
    “I hate to be so crude in the context of a high-minded thread such as this one as to ask for real-world examples of messaging you think is problematic as regards the prominence of the consensus and how you would modify them to be more effective, but I will.”

    That’s okay, earlier in the thread I was crude enough to ask for examples of it working…

    But its an easy ask,
    http://climateconsensus.org/science-2/

    Right off the top of the search engine.
    I find that (messily!) photoshopped crowd of famous advocates of the consensus, with due prominence to those that might be considered trustworthy figures to a more conservative audience, a piece of advertising divorced from rational argument. The four ‘whitecoats’ in the middle are an especially nice touch.

    @-“Although the point it seems to me to have actually made is that attempts to explain the science underlying the consensus are lost on people. Which leaves us where?”

    Umm, the video was mainly because I saw a way of modeling/animating the ‘scientists figures quickly – grin.
    But you seem to have got the message.
    It leaves us with Growth I expect.
    Accepting the consensus is just one stage along the stages of denial. The next is that the consensus establishes a qualitative result, not a quantitative one. People flag up the inherent known, unknown and systemic uncertainties…might even give them colors?!
    The intense interest in the decimal value of climate sensitivity is a cover for this.

    Although as far as I can see the small possible range of climate sensitivity really only implies a few decades delay in the end state of the climate given BAU.

    Perhaps the expectation is that in 2074 people will be saying;
    “Phew, thank goodness climate sensitivity was not as high as they thought in the twentyteens. That extra couple of decades wealth increase we have had before the most extreme droughts, heatwaves, floods and sea level rise kicked have made it easy to adapt.
    Especially since we developed this Magno-Atomic Giga-Ion Converter as a source of free energy!

  385. L Hamilton,

    What I had in mind is a hypothesis of the following nature:

    People who are going to have higher education fall to a significant extent to two groups:

    Group 1:
    – Concerned about environment or predisposed to develop concerns.
    – Liberal or predisposed to become liberal during university education.

    Group 2:
    – Environmental concerns not essential.
    – Solidly conservative, perhaps libertarian attitudes, not affected by university environment or education.

    I emphasized hypothesis because I have no evidence to support that. The problem is that we have a snapshot, not longitudinal information about, how the views of people have changed over time.

  386. Steve Bloom says:

    Thanks, izen, although that seems to be more of a web resource than a message. I think it’s good to have something like that up front on the web if someone makes a direct search for the term. Yeah, the graphic is lame, but less so if the primary audience they had in mind is high school students. The lists of endorsers of the consensus are accurate as far as I can see, and IMO pretty effective with someone who’s just googling the term cold to find out about this here climate consensus.

    Note that the sponsoring organization seems to have an overall more diverse approach. See their strategy page in particular. I don’t see even one mention of consensus.

    Anyway, I think I didn’t express myself very well. What I’m looking for is an example of the consensus being over-featured in some sort of messaging campaign. Maybe have a look at Climate Reality and see if you think they’re doing so.

    Yeah, Growth. Which will inevitably deliver Mr. Fusion unto us, so what’s the deal with that other gizmo? 🙂

  387. L Hamilton says:

    Pekka, your Group 1 and Group 2 hypothesis of basic personality differences reminds me of Chris Moody’s book The Republican Brain. Our survey research hasn’t gone there, to date.

    “The problem is that we have a snapshot, not longitudinal information about, how the views of people have changed over time.”

    But we do have longitudinal information of a collective instead of developmental kind. For instance, here’s another graph showing four years of quarterly statewide polling of climate beliefs in New Hampshire.

  388. izen says:

    @-Steve Bloom
    ” Maybe have a look at Climate Reality and see if you think they’re doing so.”

    No, they preach to the choir and can be read as ‘alarmist’, but I don’t see any undue emphasis there, or in most other places.

    @-“Yeah, Growth. Which will inevitably deliver Mr. Fusion unto us, so what’s the deal with that other gizmo? :)”

    The acronym? 😉

    @-“Yeah, the graphic is lame, but less so if the primary audience they had in mind is high school students….and IMO pretty effective with someone who’s just googling the term cold to find out about this here climate consensus.”

    That would restrict its effective target audience to the especially naive high school student…not sure a site that treats its audience as such is going to get much traction with those who are more culturally embedded.

    The site has a science page with the basics of AGW theory and a prediction that –
    “In essence we are looking at the end of human life as we know it. …”

    And followed up with the hypothetical –
    “If you consulted 100 doctors, 97 said you would die, 3 said you would probably be okay, who would you believe ?
    Would you make changes in order to definitely continue living, or would you do nothing?”

    Except it is not always a clear matter of life and death, but probable rates of morbidity, and the response in the real world…

    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6939/14/18
    https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2011/195/3/why-treating-obesity-so-difficult-justification-role-bariatric-surgery

  389. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    ==> “No, that’s not true.”

    Thanks. That comes as a surprise.

    I just rechecked my list of people whose judgement I value, and amazing enough, I overlooked your name on there the first time.

    No connection to that comment of yours, of course. 🙂

  390. Joshua says:

    ==> “The problem is that we have a snapshot, not longitudinal information about, how the views of people have changed over time.”

    I’ve comment to Kahan, many, many times, that I think the same problem exists with his data that show an association between greater “scientific literacy” and more polarized views w/r/t climate change.

  391. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    ==> “Joshua, the reference was to a prior comment where I asked you to state what you’ve learned from this thread.”

    What I’ve learned…hmmm. I learned that there’s some research on the effectiveness of “consensus messaging” that I wasn’t aware of before. I haven’t seen, yet, how that research doesn’t have the same problems as some similar research – primarily, the “real world” aspect. If I read it and gave it some time, that additional research might lean me more in the direction that under some circumstances, “consensus messaging” might be effective – but seems to me that still, a lot would depend on the circumstances, and that hasn’t changed, nor has my skepticism about the ability of people involved to create those circumstances.

    What have you learned?

    ==> “I too have to go right now, but your 8:40 pm comment seems to me to have provided evidence of your having missed in the past similar points to the ones made in this thread.”

    I already asked once, and didn’t get very far (you basically just repeated the assertion). What did my comment reveal about what I failed to learn?

    ==> “This thread has rather more than four readers, Joshua.”

    Indeed it does, Steve. And I do appreciate your concern. I’m touched.

  392. BBD says:

    Joshua

    I just rechecked my list of people whose judgement I value, and amazing enough, I overlooked your name on there the first time.

    It’s la condition humaine, innit?

  393. Peter Jacobs says:

    Steve Mosher writes: ” I suppose if you wanted to question the claim “scientists dont believe in AGW because of the consensus” a good place to start would be to find a quote from Hansen, for example, where he claimed to believe because everyone else believed. A quote from Tyndall would be most impressive and would seal your victory.”

    The issue isn’t whether climate scientists (or close relatives thereof) believe in AGW because of the consensus. The point is that in the aggregate scientists, outside of their fields and perhaps a few areas of personal interest, defer to consensus on pretty much every other scientific issue, rather than weighing the evidence themselves. Like lay people, they use consensus as a heuristic because they don’t have the time and cognitive resources to adjudicate every scientific question themselves.

    Hansen’s acceptance of the consensus on AGW isn’t arrived at by virtue of the consensus, but I can guarantee you that a whole host of his views on other scientific issues are.

    The idea that scientists, or laypeople, weigh the evidence carefully on all scientific issues rather than deferring to the consensus view is absurd.

    Your other points, that consensus messaging is not a panacea, that different levels of scientific engagement are necessary, that consensus messaging won’t work for literally everyone, are of course also advocated by those who favor consensus messaging. You don’t have to persuade John Cook that SkepticalScience provides a resource that is valuable in the cases where people want to debunk denialist claims.

    I think it’s important to understand that many, perhaps all, of the people who are advocating consensus messaging based on what we’ve learned from social science have come to consensus messaging after trying many other tacks. Rather than create SkepticalScience to step in where consensus messaging fails, Cook and others have turned to consensus messaging after other efforts have failed or been demonstrated to be suboptimal by social science.

    There is no more a silver bullet for climate communications than there is for a low carbon economy. Different strategies will work for different situations.

    I love talking about how evidence forms the basis of the consensus. I just gave a talk about it. I think it’s amazing and to me it sounds very impressive 😉 I have a personal stake in trying to talk up the value of showing how consensus arises from the evidence, because it would certainly make the paper I’m writing up seem more important.

    But unfortunately, the evidence from social science suggests that this line of argument is impressive to those who are the exception, rather than the rule. I would be thrilled if this was not the case. It would help me out immensely.

    “A rational person who has no knowledge of climate and who is good ( has past success) with picking experts to listen to, may of course be swayed by the message.”

    The whole point of consensus messaging, not Kahanian dueling experts, is that you don’t get to “pick experts”. You either listen to virtually all of the experts, or virtually none of them. The whole premise is that you don’t get to cherrypick.

    “The message probably works on those who want to believe in the policy but haven’t a clue about the science”

    I think it’s reasonably safe to say that this has the causation backwards. Willingness to support policy seems to hinge on perceived consensus. Of course there will be some subset of people who want to see an end to fossil fuel use, who will be glad to hear about the consensus to bolster their views, but we can leave the specific case of climate out of it and look at the general dynamics of consensus perception in other, way less polarized, way less exciting topics. Like hypoxia from runoff. The dynamics seem to be functioning the same- perceived consensus seems to be a mediating factor in policy support rather than the reverse.

    “speaker and audience matter in determining what a message is and what a message means.”

    I think it would be interesting to see the interaction between consensus messaging and who the message is delivered by. In an ideal world, I would love to see a bunch of conservatives delivering consensus information to conservative audiences. I don’t know any consensus message advocates who wouldn’t.

    But while we try to get that going, there is still a huge perceived consensus gap for liberals and left leaning independents who we can move right now. And, as the evidence for polarization of people who would actually be reachable by any means is so weak, I don’t see a reason not to get who we can now while we work on ways to get other people down the road.

  394. David in Cal says:

    As has been pointed out, “significant” doesn’t mean “over 50%”. It means “sufficiently great or important to be worthy of attention; noteworthy.” While I believe man’s activity contributes to global warming, I don’t know how one can say it’s over 50% of the cause. The reason is that we don’t know what climate sensitivity is. The IPCC says climate sensitivity is “very likely” between 1.5 and 4.5 deg. C. That’s a wide range. And, they leave the possibility that it might be less than 1.5 or greater than 4.5.

    Another key aspect is whether the warming is catastrophic. Even if one believes that man’s activity causes more than half the warming, that doesn’t necessarily imply that it’s harmful. Satellite measures of global temperature from 1979 (when these measures began) to 2014 show warming at a rate of about 1.7 deg C per century. “More than half” could be that man’s activity warms the planet at a rate of only 0.9 deg per century. If this is the case, then any possible catastrophe is hundreds of years in the future.

    Also, the impact of the conservation efforts being discussed or implemented would be negligible. I don’t believe they’d be sufficient even to reduce a warming rate due to man’s activity by a tenth of a degree, from 0.9 to 0.8 deg C.

  395. David in Cal,

    While I believe man’s activity contributes to global warming, I don’t know how one can say it’s over 50% of the cause.

    This is because if you apply physics to the problem of trying to understand what caused the warming since, say, 1950 you discover that non-anthropogenic influences can only really explain a reasonably small fraction of the total warming, with anthropogenic influences dominating. There is a chance that non-anthropogenic influences could be more than 50%, but this is small and hence the analysis suggests that we are 95% sure that more than 50% of the warming since 1950 has been anthropogenic (with a best estimate of 110% – i.e., non-anthropogenic influences have had net cooling effect).

    The reason is that we don’t know what climate sensitivity is. The IPCC says climate sensitivity is “very likely” between 1.5 and 4.5 deg. C. That’s a wide range. And, they leave the possibility that it might be less than 1.5 or greater than 4.5.

    Indeed, but those ranges are all consistent with more than 50% of the warming since 1950 being anthropogenic since the ranges are largely due to uncertainties in the forcings, not uncertainties in how much of the warming is anthropogenic.

    Another key aspect is whether the warming is catastrophic.

    Catastrophic is your word, not mine. If you can’t imagine anything between “catastrophic” and “nothing to worry about” then you’re not thinking.

    Also, the impact of the conservation efforts being discussed or implemented would be negligible. I don’t believe they’d be sufficient even to reduce a warming rate due to man’s activity by a tenth of a degree, from 0.9 to 0.8 deg C.

    Quite possibly, but am not sure why you mention this. Not being able to solve a potential problem doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

  396. If I would have one nitpick of the consensus study, Cook et al., it would be that they asked whether most, more than 50%, of the warming is man-made. I would have preferred that they had asked whether almost all warming is man-made. That may not have given 97% agreement among scientists/abstracts/papers, but something quite close to that. Like ATTP writes above the IPCC estimate is around 100%.

    One thing I worry about with the laboratory experiments on consensus messaging is that the people in the experiment have the tendency to answer what they think the scientists want to hear. If you get asked about your opinion on climate change, then you get to heat that there is a consensus, it is clear the the scientists want to hear that you now think that climate change is a problem. Was there any way in these experiments to guard against that? Often scientists try to trick the people in their experiment to think it is about something else, but I guess that is hard here.

    Did we arrive at an agreement here that consensus messaging is in principle effective, but that there are other factors and that thus not any message with the word consensus in it will be effective and that we need to know more about what exactly constitutes an effective message?

  397. Victor,

    I don’t think their classification refers to any specific share of man-made effect. Their 97% applies to the sum of the three following endorsement categories
    (1) Explicit endorsement with quantification. Explicitly states that humans are the primary cause of recent global warming
    (2) Explicit endorsement without quantification. Explicitly states humans are causing global warming or refers to anthropogenic global warming/climate change as a known fact
    (3) Implicit endorsement. Implies humans are causing global warming. E.g., research assumes greenhouse gas emissions cause warming without explicitly stating humans are the cause

    The share is calculated from those abstracts that at least imply a position (66.4% do not imply any position). Out of those that imply a position 1.6% are in endorsement category (1), which is (IMO) somewhat stronger than 50% human, while 23.2% are in category (2), which is not as strong as 50% human, and 73.2% in category (3), which is still weaker as the position is only implied.

  398. Pekka,
    I do think that you need to consider categories 1, 2, 3, in light of categories 5, 6, and 7, bearing in mind that no single abstract can have two single ratings, and I think you need to consider the meaning of the word causing. So, I don’t agree that 2, and 3 are as weak as you suggest. On the other hand, it is Christmas Day, I’m busy cooking the Turkey, and I’ve had this particular discussion more times than I care to remember. Have a great day 😉

  399. aTTP,

    My opinion about that study is that it tells very, very little on the views of climates scientists, because abstracts are not written to tell on their views. The abstract are written to tell, what a specific study is about, not on the views of the authors.

    The study does not tell very much on the papers either, because it’s not looking at the central message of the abstracts, but at something that’s in most cases in the periphery of the issues the authors had in mind, while writing their abstracts.

    The study does not tell much on, how the abstracts are written, because that would require comparisons of the abstracts with the papers.

    I really don’t know, what the study is telling about.

    As I have stated several times, I do believe that an overwhelming majority of climate scientists believe that human influence is the main cause of warming over the last 60 years (to use the essentially AR5 picked period), but I don’t see, how this kind of studies can add anything to that assessment.

  400. Peter Jacobs says:

    Pekka,

    You do know that we also had authors of the studies self-rate them, don’t you?

    Also, we have surveys of scientists’ personal, anonymous views (e.g. Doran and Zimmerman, 2009). We have public positions taken by scientists (e.g. Anderegg et al., 2010).

    But what if the opinions of scientists are divergent from what they can actually get published in the literature? Well, for that, we have to look at the literature itself.

    Each of these different ways of assessing the level of agreement is complementary to the others. They all address different potential objections. Ours is one piece of the evidence for overwhelming consensus.

    As for that the study is about, not to be offensive, but have you read it? It doesn’t just quantify the consensus of now (well, by the end of the period studied), but also tracks its evolution over time. So we found a strong consensus existed back in the mid-1990s. This supports work by others, but was a shock to many people who are veterans on the subject, such as NY Times reporter Andy Revkin. There are other aspects, such as the ratio of neutral to position papers, that tell us something about the contentiousness (or lack thereof) of the consensus, that I think are interesting (e.g. Shwed and Bearman, 2010).

    Of course, I’m biased. I was a coauthor. But I have to say that the points you just raised are more than a little puzzling to me.

  401. I realized that 50% is actually stated in the definition of the category 7. That might be interpreted to imply that the “primarily” of category 1 refers also to 50%, but it could also be thought that using different formulation implies on the contrary that the meaning is different. As the formulations present the guidelines for the people who assessed the abstracts, there isn’t any further information on that (but we may check the outcome abstract by abstract, if we wish).

    I concentrated on the first three categories in my earlier comment, because I considered that relevant to Victor’s comment about the influence of the threshold on the outcome of the study.

    The case of two Scafetta papers tells, what kind of effect an explicit threshold may create in a study of abstracts. In 2006 he (and West) found up to 30% solar contribution, in 2010 his new result was 60%. The first ended up in category (1), the second in category (7). I don’t think Scafetta’s views changed much between these papers. (I believe, it’s unnecessary to tell what I think about both papers.)

  402. Peter,

    The self-rating may be a little more significant, but it has its problems as well. My impression has been that the self-rating has not been emphasized much, when the results have been presented in public, possibly implying admission of these limitations.

    The more detailed surveys of Bray and von Storch (discussed recently here by Bray) tell perhaps most on the views of climate scientists, but their work is perhaps already a bit outdated. There are also other studies that give more basis for judging the extent of consensus among scientists.

  403. Joshua says:

    Interesting editing.

  404. matt says:

    >”we have not really had large-scale implementation of a sustained campaign to promote the consensus in a science-based way (despite claims by Kahan to the contrary),”

    Yep. Thought it was weird when he made this claim without backing it up with numbers – AFAIK (which i generally think he is good at). I think we need to give a little leeway to commentary made in blogs/social media though.

    @ATTP,

    Blogging while cooking the xmas turkey. If u burn it, I think its time for an intervention.

  405. jsam says:

    I’ve reread this thread. Having spent far too many years in senior management I now think like a PowerPoint presentation. So, here are my bullets:

    – There is a consensus. Multiple studies show this to be true from a variety of angles. So it is a fact.
    – Publicising it will further piss of people who don’t want you to know one exists. As management, do you care enough about these lost causes to change course? Probably not.
    – Publicising it makes the more genteel scientists uncomfortable. As management, does this matter? It’s not like they’re suddenly going to disavow the physics.
    – Publicising it may well positively influence the undecided although, of course, how it is publicised needs to be targeted appropriately. So use the information wisely.
    – Publicising it to those already convinced may encourage them to crow about it. Crowing will not positively influence the undecided.

    Not publicising the information, however, has no benefits. Those in denial will not recant. The genteel will not become more convinced. And the unconvinced will not have this fact in front of them.

    There is no news here. This is powerful information that can be used to sway and persuade. There are demographics it will annoy, But these are overwhelmed by the demographics who can usefully digest. Keep the messaging tight. Control your cheerleaders.

    Proceed with some caution. But get on with it.

    As I say, too too many years…

  406. Peter Jacobs says:

    Pekka writes: “My impression has been that the self-rating has not been emphasized much, when the results have been presented in public, possibly implying admission of these limitations.”

    That almost sounds a bit conspiratorial. 😉

    As authors, we’ve actually brought them up frequently. The author self things for the general endorsement was 98% and the endorsement with quantification (the majority of warming one) was 96%, both somewhat higher than our ratings. Of course the authors knew their papers as a whole rather than just looking at the abstract, but this caveat actually directly addresses issues you raised about the papers as a whole and the authors’ own views.

    As for there being more detailed surveys of opinion, sure. That’s true. A review of the literature is complementary to, not meant to try to replace, such surveys.

    A lot of these supposed criticisms don’t have much to do with our paper, as far as I can tell. Or, like the issue of general endorsement vs. endorsement with quantification, seem to be repeated unexamined.

  407. BBD says:

    That almost sounds a bit conspiratorial. 😉

    Ask Pekka if he thinks Hansen is honest.

  408. Eli Rabett says:

    L, Eli would have preferred a bit more unpacking of those figures, but the issue that they imply is that where people get information from is important, thus advertising and politically oriented media. In that sense, there does appear to be a change in the last few months about the perception of a scientific consensus, and hammering on the existence of the consensus would have some value

  409. L Hamilton says:

    We have a consensus question on some of our surveys, I was tracking that for a while, and yes there did seem to be a mild but significant rise over 2010-2013. This ATTP blog discussion inspired me just now to put that consensus question back on our forthcoming January and April surveys to see whether it’s moved further.

    “Which of the following two statements do you think is more accurate?
    – Most scientists agree that climate change is happening now, caused mainly by human activities.
    – There is little agreement among scientists whether climate change is happening now, caused mainly by human activities.”
    – don’t know/no answer

    I just checked our past surveys and this consensus question shows the same pattern of a partisan gap that widens with education, like that seen with a number of different questions and datasets above. It’s a very robust pattern. The version below is calculated from a logit regression model controlling for age, gender, religious service attendance and region of the country.

  410. L Hamilton says:

    My mistake, I posted the wrong graph above — that one involves data pooled from 7 surveys in New Hampshire. Here’s the one I meant to show, from a 2011 nationwide survey. They both make basically the same point.

  411. Willard says:

    Peter,

    Sorry for the delay, and thank you for your responses.

    My point about the availability of the results to which you appeal is twofold.

    First, I can’t access some of them, so it’s tough for me to see how they describe what they did. My interest is more how they frame their hypothesis and discuss their results. I leave numerical audits to otters, but I do like to read myself what they say.

    Even accessing the published citations was more difficult than it could have been. For instance, the first hit I got on the Scholar (for L13) led me to a 404. The first hit on a Yahoo search led me to the SI. Also, I believe Lew 2013 [L13] is Lew 2012 in Cook et al 2013 [C13].

    In C13, only L13 is used to substantiate that “[c]ommunicating the scientific consensus also increases people’s acceptance that climate change (CC) is happening”. The other citation, Ding et al 2011 [D11], was cited to substantiate that “an accurate perception of the degree of scientific consensus is an essential element to public support for climate policy.” [They come from] the first two sentences from C13.

    ***

    Second, research concentrating on the cognitive effect of the consensus claim on its recipients seems quite recent. Also, and more importantly, the whole programme seems to involve few researchers.

    The authors of D11 are Ding, Maibach, Zhao, Roser-Renouf, and Leiserowitz. Those of Kotcher & al 2014 [K14] are Kotcher, Maibach, and Leiserowitz. I got the information about K14 in Maibach et al 2014 [M14], to which I referred and got from a post by John Cook [C14]; their authors are Maibach, Myers, and Leiserowitz. You also referred to Maibach et al., 2013 [M13], which I can’t access; their authors are Maibach, Leiserowitz, and Gould.

    There are other papers you cited: Aklin and Urpelainen, 2014 [AU14], “forthcoming papers from the Yale/GMU climate comm people,” and van der Linden 2014, in another comment. I haven’t found van der Linden 2014. The AU14 is “The Global Spread of Environmental Ministries: Domestic–International Interactions,” which may not be the paper to which you are referring.

    More indirectly, you also appealed to the pie chart paper [vL14], which is “How to communicate the scientific consensus on climate change: plain facts, pie charts or metaphors?” by van der Linder, Leisorowitz, Feinberg, and Maibach.

    ***

    I’m listing these references because I’m still trying to substantiate the first claim in that quote:

    Consensus messaging works overall. Some studies have found small polarization effects, others show no polarization or that consensus messaging works better against the ideological grain.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/peter-doran-on-the-97/#comment-40814

    This set of claims was in the same comment where “alchemy” and “genius” were used as labels for Dan’s research.

    ***

    I spent an inordinate amount of time on C13. I knew about D11 and C13 (C12 at the time), but never really looked into them. [I already agree with the effect of authority appeals.] As you say yourself:

    There are other signals that people orient themselves with respect to. Perceived scientific consensus is one of them. The tobacco industry knew this. Fossil fuel industry knew this. Conservative political communications operatives like Frank Luntz have known this. And social science is starting to demonstrate this.

    In fact, this is so obvious as to wonder why we’d still need to show this. However, this is a common criticism regarding psychology. There’s no much harm to take consensus claims regarding climate sciences as a model to evaluate consensus claims regarding climate sciences.

    I’ll return to L13 in a later comment. It will help me discuss what follows your “consensus messaging works overall.” For the moment, I’d suggest that compiling a bibliography on consensus messaging might be helpful.

    ***

    REFERENCES

    [AU14]: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/isqu.12119/full

    [C13]: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024/article

    [C14]: https://thewinnower.com/discussions/research-on-climate-consensus-provokes-strong-reactions

    [D11]: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v1/n9/full/nclimate1295.html

    [K14]: via M14

    [L13]: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n4/abs/nclimate1720.html

    [vL14]: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-014-1190-4

    [M13]: via M14

    [M14]: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013EF000226/full

  412. miker613 says:

    “Every climate scientist I’ve ever spoken to about this also agrees: there is clearly a strong consensus amongst scientists that we are warming, and that it is mostly us.” I’m a little late here, but I think many of us are objecting to the presentation here. “We are warming.” Indeed, not too much dispute about that! For a while, there was a fight about UHI (= how much are we warming), but I think the BEST project has quieted that somewhat. “Mostly us”. Probably also high percentage.
    But what about “We need to institute drastic mitigation policies”? That question depends on a _whole bunch_ of other issues that come in between: What is climate sensitivity, ECS and TCR? What kinds of impacts will result from a given temperature rise, adaptable or drastic? What will be the cost of sufficient mitigation? Of sufficient adaptation? Politically, is mitigation ever going to happen at all, whatever we decide we need? Etc.
    If I had to guess, I would guess that the true answer to Doran’s questions are way up in the 90%s, but that the answers to these other questions are all over the board. I’ve recently seen a climate science survey where scientists’ best guess at climate sensitivity had something like 40% of respondents drastically below the IPCC central estimates. On the economics and political science issues, I’d be surprised if you got anything close to a consensus, or even a plurality.
    Then it depends on whom you ask. No real point in asking climate modellers their thoughts about economics. I’d like to know the answers to the temperature measurements from the BEST team and the like, attribution questions from those who study it, the answers to the questions about climate sensitivity from those who study that specifically, the ecological impact from ecologists, and the economics issues from economists.
    Honestly, what am I supposed to think about people quoting 97% based on surveys studying only a few of the least controversial issues, and then claiming that there is a consensus that we must mitigate right away? Should I not conclude that this is a deceptive propaganda ploy?

  413. miker613 says:

    I’d note that Judith Curry attribution guesstimate is “middle third” – 33%-67%. As I think she is to the “left” on the skeptic side, that is for me good evidence of a solid consensus on that issue.
    I’d also note that I see a big difference between a “consensus” of 85% (which was my general take on the Bray-von Storch survey for most of the remaining issues) and the 97% that people much prefer to quote. The difference is that we have a scientific term for an 85% consensus: it is called an _open question_. Any issue with a sixth of scientists on each side remains open.
    The point of “97%” is that the actual claim is that there are really no scientists at all who doubt this, just clowns and industry shills.

  414. Steve Bloom says:

    Mostly. Which are you, miker?

    Via Andy Dessler on Twitter, a very illuminating blast from the past.

  415. miker613,

    “Every climate scientist I’ve ever spoken to about this also agrees: there is clearly a strong consensus amongst scientists that we are warming, and that it is mostly us.” I’m a little late here, but I think many of us are objecting to the presentation here.

    You can object if you wish, but I would be willing to bet that if you were to ask a sufficiently large sample of professional climate scientists if we’re warming and it they think it is mostly (make it more than 50%) us, they would say “yes”. I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

    Honestly, what am I supposed to think about people quoting 97% based on surveys studying only a few of the least controversial issues, and then claiming that there is a consensus that we must mitigate right away?

    Well, the survey’s themselves did not (from what I’ve read) conclude that we must mitigate right away. They were simply attempting to quantify the level of agreement/consensus. They may have been used to make that argument, but the survey’s themselves did not.

    Should I not conclude that this is a deceptive propaganda ploy?

    I personally find myself getting rather annoyed by people who assert this as it appears to be implying some kind of nefarious intent when what those involved were doing was to quantify a level of consensus. How it’s been used is not necessarily within their control and suggesting that something is a deceptive propaganda ploy just because someone might have said something you disagree with is – in my opinion – an unfortunate way to frame this.

    I’d note that Judith Curry attribution guesstimate is “middle third” – 33%-67%. As I think she is to the “left” on the skeptic side, that is for me good evidence of a solid consensus on that issue.

    I really do think you need to find a good deal more people than just Judith Curry before you could really claim such a consensus. From what I’ve seen, Judith Curry very much holds a minority view.

  416. miker613 says:

    “Which are you, miker?” I don’t have much doubt that CO2 is causing much of the warming, though I am not a climate scientists.
    “I really do think you need to find a good deal more people than just Judith Curry before you could really claim such a consensus. From what I’ve seen, Judith Curry very much holds a minority view.” ATTP, I was not clear enough. I meant, if Judith Curry holds 33%-67%, I think there’s no doubt that almost all climate scientists hold by _at least_ that much attribution, as she is certainly on the skeptic side.

  417. miker613 says:

    “How it’s been used is not necessarily within their control and suggesting that something is a deceptive propaganda ploy just because someone might have said something you disagree with is – in my opinion – an unfortunate way to frame this.” Well, do they deny it? I am willing to believe them if they tell me. My general impression, though, is that people are very happy to let people like the president of the United States say, “97% consensus among scientists that Global Warming is a very big problem and requires immediate action!” Which of you object to statements like that and say, Well, no, the only 97% consensus is on issues __ and __? Again, I will believe you if you tell me otherwise, but my current impression is that this is exactly the result desired by the “Consensus Project”.

  418. miker613,

    I meant, if Judith Curry holds 33%-67%, I think there’s no doubt that almost all climate scientists hold by _at least_ that much attribution, as she is certainly on the skeptic side.

    Okay, I see. Well, that’s probably consistent with my view then. Even Judith Curry thinks it could be more than 50% and is probably in a minority. A huge fraction of active climate scientists regard it as highly likely that we have contributed more than 50% of the warming since 1950. FWIW, I think Judith’s argument as to why it is 33-67% is extremely weak.

  419. miker613,

    Well, do they deny it? I am willing to believe them if they tell me. My general impression, though, is that people are very happy to let people like the president of the United States say, “97% consensus among scientists that Global Warming is a very big problem and requires immediate action!”

    I regularly see climate scientists objecting to statements like this, especially if the “we must act now” is directly attributed to them. On the other hand, I think many active climate scientists do think that we should act now (as do I) so I suspect many would rather the need to act wasn’t directly attributed to them, but do not object to policy makers making arguments for action (it’s them who should be doing so if we should indeed act).

  420. BBD says:

    miker613

    I’ve recently seen a climate science survey where scientists’ best guess at climate sensitivity had something like 40% of respondents drastically below the IPCC central estimates.

    Link please!

    Should I not conclude that this is a deceptive propaganda ploy?

    No. This is a conspiracy theory.

  421. miker613 says:

    “Link please!” Shucks. I had hoped it was better known. I’ll see if I can look it up; it was a few months ago? Anyhow it’ll be a couple of days before I can even get to a computer starting now.

  422. > Even Judith Curry thinks it could be more than 50% and is probably in a minority.

    As much as I enjoy physical plays, let’s bear in mind that Judy has a different interpretation of these percentages than the IPCC:

    Curry’s assumption that the IPCC means ‘most’ in this context to cover a range of 51-95% is flat-out wrong. Here’s the full quote from the Summary for Policymakers: “It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.” They explicitly state that their best estimate for the human-induced contribution is about 100%, which is outside the range that Curry assumes they mean!

    http://climatechangenationalforum.org/your-logic-escapes-me-by-john-nielsen-gammon/

    Please, do continue.

  423. “I think Judith’s argument as to why it is 33-67% is extremely weak.”

    Was there an argument at all? I only saw an instance of mathematical magic and once an argument for half natural variability for a short period, which is naturally possible; the shorter the period the more important natural variability will be. But I have never seen anything that I would see as an “argument” for the attribution of long term warming to half greenhouse gasses and half natural variability of unknown origin. Does anyone else know this? I do not read that blog too often.

  424. jsam says:

    40% below and 40% above would make a not bad central estimate.

    “Well, that’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

  425. > I have never seen anything that I would see as an “argument” for the attribution of long term warming to half greenhouse gasses and half natural variability of unknown origin.

    NG was referring to this argument:

    The way the IPCC’s attribution argument is laid out, there are two possible contributing causes to climate change since 1950: anthropogenic forcing, and natural variability. The sum of these two contributing causes is 100%; the chief issue of interest is the relative percentage contributions of anthropogenic forcing and natural variability.

    The IPCC AR5 makes an extremely confident statement that ‘most’ of the warming is attributed anthropogenic forcing, and I understand ‘most’ to cover a range of 51-95%. The IPCC implicitly recognizes that the attribution issue is uncertain by not giving a distribution of values or a ‘best estimate.’ Rather, they provide a bounded region that covers ~44% of the possible territory.

    http://judithcurry.com/2014/01/23/the-logic-of-the-ipccs-attribution-statement/

    NG also cites her “under oath” testimony:

    http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Testimony&Hearing_ID=e07101a7-0715-7690-b6e9-c39e56a3b468&Witness_ID=b46b2226-01bf-4156-a675-ae9093e5e140

    NG also mentions these posts:

    http://judithcurry.com/2014/01/13/forthcoming-senate-epw-hearing-on-presidents-climate-action-plan/

    http://judithcurry.com/2014/01/16/senate-epw-hearing-on-the-presidents-climate-action-plan/

    http://judithcurry.com/2014/01/18/mann-on-advocacy-and-responsibility/

    http://judithcurry.com/2014/01/20/the-case-of-the-missing-heat/

    For more variations on about the same, there’s a category on attribution:

    http://judithcurry.com/category/attribution/

    ***

    TL;DR — Marcia Wyatt’s Stadium Wave Hypothesis and “but percentages ought to end at 99%.”

  426. Peter Jacobs says:

    Don’t have a lot of time this minute, but I am seeing something of a common refrain crop up as an objection to what the consensus refers to- getting into the percentage of warming attributable to humans, sensitivity, impacts, etc.

    This sort of argument is one of the bases of the whole Scientists Are From Mars, Lay People Are From Venus discussion that we’re trying to have. The level of expert agreement on these questions is apparently very interesting to some people involved in climate blog warring, but it’s probably way beyond the level of complexity that is useful for the general public.

    On the most basic question (are humans warming the climate?) there is a huge level of expert agreement, and a huge disconnect between that expert agreement and the level of agreement the public thinks there is.

    We can start from there.

    I am skeptical that the average person wants to get into the weeds on something like climate sensitivity or the percentage of observed warming that is attributable to human activity. My suspicion is that the level of agreement will still be high but lower than the agreement on the basic issue of whether humans are warming the planet. And my suspicion is that people who don’t want to see policies enacted to limit emissions (be they Skydragon types to people who may not reject the physical science but just don’t like the idea of governmental regulation of environmental problems) also suspect a lower level of consensus on these issue, and thus want to focus on these more advanced issues, hoping that the public will be less persuaded to action.

    Given the practical irrelevance of a lower end sensitivity to the issue of whether we need to limit emissions to meet international goals on warming thresholds (Rogelj et al., 2014), I am unclear on what added value in trying to change the consensus focus to these issues would be for those concerned about policy. I am also unclear as to what added value the numerical level of consensus is on these more detailed questions would be from a basic public understanding of science perspective. They strike me as questions of expert agreement well beyond what we discuss for other scientific fields (do we expect people to know the level of agreement on the relative roles of HGT and reproduction in evolution? do we expect people to know the level of agreement on the current apportionment of the mass of the universe to matter, dark matter, and dark energy?). Perhaps there is utility in focusing on the consensus level of these more advanced questions, but I would like to see the justifications.

    By contrast, we know that the consensus gap on the most basic aspect of the issue exists. And we have good evidence that the perception of consensus on this has knock on effects for beliefs about other important aspects of the issue.

    So while I appreciate that some people seem to care very much about consensus levels on topics further afield, until I am persuaded otherwise I consider them to be a distraction and largely irrelevant to those outside of the climate blog wars.

    Why not focus on learning to crawl before we start arguing about what sort of running we should focus on?

  427. Thanks Willard,

    That first quote is also the one I read at the time. The text is extremely muddled. She seems to mix up percentages from probabilities, with percentages from the attribution to human influences.

    It do not see her giving a reason why 50% should be the best estimate for the long-term human influence on the global mean temperature. She does quote something with a 50% in it, maybe she thinks that that is the argument for the 50%. She writes (her emphasis):

    Comparing trends from the CCSM4 ensemble to observed trends suggests that internal variability could account for approximately half of the observed 1979–2005 September Arctic sea ice extent loss.

    The Arctic is a small region, which means more natural variability. The natural variability in the Arctic is much higher than average. It is a short period, just 25 years, whereas climatologists normal talk about global warming since pre-industrial (if not otherwise specified). And it is another variable; sea ice also depends on wind and ocean circulation, not just on temperature.

    If this post is not so muddled because she thinks that every reader already knows from previous posts the reasons why she thinks 50% of global warming is natural, then this post could get the price for the worst post on climate change by a professor.

  428. Before returning to L13, I’d like to take the time to acknowledge Eli’s analysis, about which I agree if only because there are letters in it and I find it sexy (you’ll see why later I say that):

    There is a significant difference between an appeal to one’s own authority and an appeal to the authority of another IF there is good reason to believe that the other is an authority. Thus it is perfectly logical to say X says Y, she is acknowledged by those in the field to have a clue, they know more about Z than poor Eli who is but a bunny. In such an argument, rather than presenting evidence about Z (who has the time to study everything) you are presenting evidence that Y knows about the subject, much easier to do. The response is to show that Y is really Willard Tony in disguise [Eli, 0].

    More generally, there is a difference between a bunny B deferring to a consensus C of which B is not a member, and refering to a consensus A of which B is a part. We can observe this distinction in the roles a citation plays in a list of references. In the first case, it’s oftentimes called handwaving, and it may signal something like “don’t bug me with this question, but them.” In the second case, it may signal something “here’s the research community to which I belong and look how we collectively rock.” There are other kinds of function that a citation can have. This is only a suggested presentation.

    That difference does not matter much if in the end the authority of C is unwarranted. That difference matters for the dynamics of various social networks cited as authorities.

    ***

    A more important difference, in my opinion, is how appeals to authority is received in different research programmes. To that effect, Jean Goodwin [G11] recalls that philosophers up to John Locke were suspicious of them, that rhetors were rather favorable to them, and that two fields of contemporary studies are converging toward one another:

    Work in Argumentation Studies (AS) and Studies in Expertise and Experience (SEE) has been proceeding on converging trajectories, moving from resistance to expert authority to a cautious acceptance of its legitimacy. The two projects are therefore also converging on the need to account for how, in the course of complex and confused civic deliberations, nonexpert citizens can figure out which statements from purported experts deserve their trust. Both projects recognize that nonexperts cannot assess expertise directly; instead, the nonexpert must judge whether to trust the expert. But how is this social judgment accomplished? A normative pragmatic approach from AS can complement and extend the work from SEE on this question, showing that the expert’s putting forward of his view and “bonding” it with his reputation for expertise works to force or “blackmail” his audience of citizens into heeding what he says. Appeals to authority thus produce the visibility and accountability we want for expert views in civic deliberations. [G11]

    (The notion of “blackmail” is technical here. Don’t mind it, please.)

    She also mentions some ways by which laybunnies can evaluate expertise without being an expert themselves.

    There are the “external features” displayed by the experts, or their “social knowledge.” It’s not the content that is evaluated, inasmuch as the expert himself. The ad vericundiam connects with the ad hominem. Many contributions exploit this dimension thread after thread [e.g. 1, 2], so we may expect that this is not unimportant.

    Another kind of cues relate to trustworthiness, like “internal consistency” of claims, “external consistency with evidence”, “consistency with other experts.” Reputation is not something unimportant.

    Her more interesting suggestions belong to what she calls a “normative pragmatic account.” The most salient aspects are these. First, claims are more than propositions, but commitments in a dialogue between the experts and the stakeholders, the most one being that when one speaks like an expert, he becomes one, e.g. “stand aside, I am a doctor.” Second, commiting to of an expert claim puts a set of responsibilities, some of which a pseudonym can’t bear. This is why I seldom claim authority.

    Third, and most importantly, Goodwin’s pragmatic account has led her to analyze a normative claim that is relevant to this thread:

    In other work, for example, I am exploring how experts associated with the first International Panel on Climate Changed attempted to strengthen their appeal to authority by claiming that the IPCC report expressed a “consensus” view of all the relevant scientists (Goodwin 2009, also discussed in Rehg, this volume). This claim served to strengthen the force of their appeal, since it further reduced the wiggle room of citizens and policymakers. In claiming a consensus, however, the experts committed themselves to the truth of that claim, and thus legitimated a now 20-year long debate over how to count scientists [G11, §3].

    In other words, by claiming a consensus about the claim C, and providing this claim the norm of a consensus, C becomes eo ipso a claim that can be debated. Also the very authority by which the consensus is avowed becomes a legitimate target. Both become fair ball. Both have been played every time a consensus claim has been asserted as a social norm in climate blogland.

    Arguing that “the debate is over” therefore comes at a price, if we accept Goodwin’s normative pragmatic model.

    [0] https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/peter-doran-on-the-97/#comment-41061

    [1] https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/peter-doran-on-the-97/#comment-41009

    [2] https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/peter-doran-on-the-97/#comment-41100

    [G11]: http://philpapers.org/rec/GOOAFT

  429. Eli Rabett says:

    How to count scientists: one, two, . . . .many.

    Seriously that is confusing the tactics of those who do not accept an expert consensus with the consensus existing. It ain’t called denial for nothing

  430. ­> How to count scientists: one, two, . . . .many.

    I like this rule, as grey parrots could follow it [P06]. We should distinguish who uses the “tactics” and what is the legitimacy of these. Even Willard Tony can use sound tricks.

    Perhaps I should provide an example, which is related to the Stadium Wave. In one of her comments, Marcia Wyatt claimed:

    By not working toward an agenda, we have the liberty to be truly curious and awed! [1]

    That claim about her own motivation allowed me to start questioning it [2]. The food fight [e.g. 3] ended by me offering this prescription to Marcia herself:

    I could not care less about how you spell out your motivations. The fact is that you do spell them out. It is the fact that you appeal to your motivation that is suboptimal.

    However you will try to portray your motivations, they will contrast with your co-author’s. You’ve just published a paper with a climate warrior, with non-negligible PR facilities.

    This is not a point about your clumsiness with language.

    Wait until you meet the climate warriors that Judy combats until you judge if I’m being mean right now. [4]

    Reading that comment thread should suffice to convince everyone that I am used to physical play.

    ***

    On the other hand, the IPPC may not have this luxury. It is an authoritative consensus-building process. In that case, it may very well be legitimate to build on this authority.

    However, it comes at a price.

    To take one example, the oil industry never advertizes itself that way. Wonder why?

    ***

    [P06] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10071-006-0034-7

    [1] http://judithcurry.com/2013/10/10/the-stadium-wave/#comment-396512

    [2] http://judithcurry.com/2013/10/10/the-stadium-wave/#comment-396519

    [3] http://judithcurry.com/2013/10/10/the-stadium-wave/#comment-396596

    [4] http://judithcurry.com/2013/10/10/the-stadium-wave/#comment-396887

  431. My short version of Willard’s recent posts:

    When A presents the claim C to B, and C contradicts B’s prior beliefs that may lead to:
    – B changing her beliefs closer to C, or
    – To a reduction in the trust B has on A.

    If A is seen as representative of group G, the trust of B on the whole group G may be diminished.

    The way C is formulated and presented may influence strongly the outcome.

  432. BBD says:

    It’s a bitter pill.

  433. > If A is seen as representative of group G, the trust of B on the whole group G may be diminished.

    This extends quite well what I’m saying, Pekka. Perhaps this relates to what I had in mind with the oil producers and resellers’ case.

    See how one organization which represents them sell their products:

    http://whatyescando.com/

    What do you notice first? A women’s face. A white collar. A researcher. A blue collar. Two women in a work field. A sexy red head watching something. People connect with people before they connect with concepts.

    The emphasis on the word “yes”. There are many occasions where I like to hear that word.

    The theme about “what we can do.” Actionable links. A menu with topics, the last one being “people”. The main collective word is “we”.

    Greenwashing well done.

    ***

    Now, look at “IPCC.” An acronym. You can’t even make a word out of it. What is this thing? A panel. The only time I work with panels is to renovate a house.

    The word “consensus” is a bit better. At least the idea of a consensus implicates people. But who?

    WHERE ARE THE SCIENTISTS?

    We are supposed to have 97% of the scientists on board, and there’s not even one here:

    http://theconsensusproject.com/

    (The website is very well done, btw. Nice colors, Good taglines. Even my kids could navigate.)

    ***

    So, where are the scientists? We need to see them. If scientists claim there’s an authoritative consensus, I see no reason why I shan’t see their mug faces.

    Here’s a video with good ingredients:

    Women. Fire. Dangerous things.

    Another one with a bearded man, to please Rachel:

    An authoritative face. Animated things. Weather spells.

    What’s not to dislike?

  434. How a consensus of scientists opposing to business-as-usual could look like:

    Imagine thousands of them. Imagine a single-serving-site [1] with a single page that would load a different climate scientist every time you load it.

    [1]: http://www.kottke.org/08/02/single-serving-sites

  435. Women, fire and dangerous things. What Categories Reveal about the Mind .

    The best title for a philosophy book.

  436. Why mention a debate that is over?

  437. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard,

    I see that there are a few more comments by you that I owe a response to, but briefly, on “where are the scientists?”, you may not be aware of the 97 Hours mini-campaign that John Cook and some other Skeptical Science volunteers contributed to.

    http://skepticalscience.com/nsh/#

    This was a volunteer effort, informed by social science research, but decidedly not the sort of big budget, highly organized, high profile 97% campaign that Kahan seems to believe has been going on since the early 00s (which AFAIK don’t exist).

    With more resources and more lead time, we could scale this up immensely.

    Now, IMO, there is tension in personalizing the consensus ratio and playing into the dueling experts trap. But I of course agree that humans identify with humans more easily than abstract concepts and messages.

    So I think your point is well made, but I am also a bit concerned that, like many of these ostensible criticisms, it’s not as though consensus messaging advocates aren’t well aware of and actively trying the very thing being suggested to them.

    To me, this is evidence that what it is consensus messaging advocates are trying to do, and are doing, is not well known even within the climate blog environment. Which is sort of an implicit refutation of the idea that this is anything remotely like a message and strategy that has been aggressively pursued in organized campaigns to the public for over a decade and a half.

  438. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP says “I was suggesting that some people are choosing to be outside the tent and I was referring to the discussion of what we should do.”

    Yes, I think I understand that, but the conversation is in the context of trying to understand why so many people are choosing not to be in “the tent” and I am suggesting part of this difficulty is the paradigm implied by the phrase “the tent” when in fact many tents exist and it may be that people are not choosing not to be in your tent; they simply haven’t chosen it — either because they have chosen a different tent, or none, or haven’t heard of it, and so on. By now it is fairly clear that 97 percent means “in the tent” in which that 97 percent was defined in the first place.

    The religious equivalent is the phrase “the church” which in Salt Lake City means “Mormon” but in Baltimore means “Catholic”, in either case, no room or even contemplation that any other could possibly exist and thus no need to qualify the phrase. People in the tent might intellectually acknowledge other tents but they do not feel their existence and the correctness and superiority of these religions is indisputable and obvious to persons in each tent. That is why Mormons and Catholics don’t much talk to each other because each is superior and correct which pretty much automatically means the other is not even if the other side occasionally makes a good point (or provides a challenge proof text).

  439. > http://skepticalscience.com/nsh/

    Yes!

    I just thought of this URL:

    http://dohumanscauseglobalwarming.info

    There should be one word on that page.

  440. Joshua says:

    ==> ” but decidedly not the sort of big budget, highly organized, high profile 97% campaign that Kahan seems to believe has been going on since the early 00s

    Do you have a link to Kahan talking about that big budget, highly organized, high profile 99% campaign going on since the 00s?

    Oh, and btw…

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/peter-doran-on-the-97/#comment-41082

    Since Steve seems otherwise occupied, could you fill in for him and explain which lessons not learned are revealed in that comment?

  441. Joshua says:

    Larry (Can I call you Larry?) –

    Any thoughts about how the information in your graph might inform the question as to the efficacy of “consensus messaging?”

    Some speculation.

    It might be that education is positively associated with exposure to informational media, which might be correlated with hearing more consensus messaging. So the positive correlation between education level and view of the prevalence of agreement among scientists could be a reflection of a positive effect from consensus messaging. And that might fit with the stronger positive association among liberals, because they’re more likely to hear “realist” “pro-consensus” messaging in a higher proportion than “skeptical” “anti-consensus messaging.”

    More informational media consumption might also take place with conservatives and indies as well, but because they’re likely to hear a relatively higher proportion of “anti-consensus messaging” their view of the degree of consensus might not change as much with more media exposure.

    On the other hand, you say:

    ==> “I just checked our past surveys and this consensus question shows the same pattern of a partisan gap that widens with education, like that seen with a number of different questions and datasets above. It’s a very robust pattern.”

    Kahan argues that polarization increases with “scientific literacy” – because folks who are more scientifically literate use their understanding of the evidence to strengthen their identity-influence view. That might translate into: People who are more educated are more polarized. Which could explain the widening partisan gap you show. (I don’t remember if Kahan looks for/shows a correlation with education level and polarization). So that could be the causal factor, as opposed to causal messaging.

    Also, if it is true that people who are more educated consume more informational media, then the relatively weak correlation between educational level and view of the consensus among conservatives would seem to be in contradiction with the findings of some research, which show that “consensus-messaging” has the strongest impact with conservatives….hmmm….that is, unless we could show that conservatives consume “anti-consensus messaging” at a higher rate, relative to “pro-consensus messsaging,” proportionally constant with their higher media exposure.

    I hope you (anyone?) can follow that. 🙂

    That all feels like trying too hard to read the tea leaves of your graph – but I was just wondering if you had some thoughts?

  442. Peter Jacobs says:

    Joshua,

    I am not trying to speak for Steve Bloom or anyone else in this nor, I hope, is anyone else seen to be speaking for me.

    I am going back and forth between being able to see and answer this thread via a mobile vs. an actual computer, and the formatting to me of the think you linked to is unreadable. I am happy to answer specific questions.

    In terms of Kahan’s belief that there has/have been one or more organized 97% consensus campaigns backed by significant money going back years, this is from direct face to face conversation with him, as well as conversations with a reporter who spoke to Kahan about his complaints over the Cook et al. 2013 paper.

    As best I can gather, he seems to be confused with regard to the fact that a design company volunteered to do a “The Consensus Project” web site to highlight the Cook et al. results, along with proposed plans for a possible future consensus push by AAAS, and some unrelated stuff by a Gore-backed campaign that didn’t use the 97% message at all as best I can tell.

    His complaints weren’t well articulated, but the punchline seemed to be he thought that the Cook et al. paper was part of a funded, organized PR push, and that this was either a direct or “in spirit” continuation of previous work that he thought used the 97% but didn’t.

    Similarly, Kahan claimed that 97% messaging (not just consensus messaging) predated but went back to at least Oreskes 2004, when of course that number doesn’t appear in Oreskes at all. It isn’t clear to me that he’s read any of the consensus-related papers at all.

    And in general the idea that the 97% number was meaningfully on the broader public’s radar, let alone Kahan’s, prior to 2010+ is a little hard to take seriously when Kahan’s blog (which has been around since at least ’09, doesn’t mention DZ09 or A10 contemporaneously, as best I can tell bringing them up only after his (by his own admission) knee-jerk criticism of Cook et al., 2013.

    Is he mentally conflating all consensus studies with messaging campaigns that use some appeal to consensus, no matter how broadly he’s defining them, with 97% messaging? Or does he actually think that papers that don’t use the number do use them because he doesn’t know what they say at all? I have no idea.

    I think that answers your question. If not, please let me know.

  443. Joshua says:

    Peter –

    ===> “I am not trying to speak for Steve Bloom or anyone else…”

    I was just using an excuse to get in a dig at Steve…

    More to the point, I provided quotes that comment that, IMO, illustrated quite clearly your earlier straw-manning in the service of going after Kahan – by saying that criticisms of your arguments were due to a failure to be critical of Kahan’s arguments, So I’d appreciate it if you can address them.

    ==> ” I am happy to answer specific questions.”

    It’s not really a matter of specific questions so much as a question about your overall approach to the discussion. I’ll wait ’till you have an opportunity to use a device that can handle the formatting better in the comment…

    Anyway, along the same straw-manning lines…

    ==> “… the punchline seemed to be he thought that the Cook et al. paper was part of a funded, organized PR push,”

    “A funded, organized PR push” for Cook13 seems to me to be quite different from a “big budget, highly organized, high profile 99% campaign going on since the 00s?”

    So even if he were “confused” as you describe, I’m still left with the impression that your first description was hyperbole.

    But maybe in your discussions with him, he described some “big budget, highly organized, high profile 99% campaign going on since the 00s?” If so, could you give a bit more detail about that discussion you had?

    ==> “Is he mentally conflating all consensus studies with messaging campaigns that use some appeal to consensus, no matter how broadly he’s defining them, with 97% messaging?”

    My guess is that when Kahan speaks to the lack of signal for the efficacy of “consensus messaging,” he is referring to consensus-messaging in a more general sense, not just the specific “97% messaging.” Certainly, the more general message that there is a “consensus” among climate scientists has been out in the public arena for a long time.

    Are you saying that you think that there is some dramatically different impact from saying “there is a consensus among climate scientists” than in saying “97% of climate scientists agree” – and so his criticism that there’s no signal that consensus-messaging works is in error because he doesn’t make that distinction? In other words, it might be true that “consensus” messaging doesn’t work but that doesn’t speak to whether 97% messaging would work?

  444. We are lots of people. We all are different. We all want to be happy:

    Happiness is the truth.

    We’re all in it together.

  445. People also like stories:

    Don’t miss the applause at (5:07).

  446. Peter Jacobs says:

    Joshua,

    That explanation would make sense, were he not specifically saying 97% consensus messaging with regard to Oreskes ’04 or the other things, like the Gore campaign, neither of which used that number. Was he misspeaking? Did he think they did use that number? I don’t know. I do know he specifically was saying they used that messaging, not just the consensus messaging. I think I said as much in my comment.

    In terms of you saying that you think I was using hyperbole, sorry to hear that.

    Part of this issue stems from the fact that Kahan the author of peer reviewed literature and Kahan the commenter about his and others’ work sometimes diverge. I speculate that this is because reviewers would challenge some of the editorializing, which is why there is a discrepancy, but I can’t say this is the reason definitively. So it’s hard for me to give you citations where he’s published this instead of just said it publicly. I imagine that in the Q&As after some of his public talks that have been recorded, he makes such claims, as this is the arena in which I heard them, to my puzzlement and surprise.

    Or perhaps the reporter I referred to can confirm this at least partially. This is a direct quote from an email I sent to her after hearing Kahan’s criticism of consensus messaging:

    “Contrary to what Kahan says, the 97% consensus message hasn’t been tested in the real world for a decade or more. Contrary to what Kahan claims, it was not part of Oreskes’s 2004 paper. The first appearance of the “97%” statistic doesn’t come until 2009 (with Doran and Zimmerman), and it received very little press at the time. The message received a bit more with the confirmation of the that figure by Anderegg et al., 2010, but again, it was not exactly a widespread media story.”

    The reporter’s name is Gayathri Vaidyanathan, writing for ClimateWire (at the time).

    But you seem to have your own ideas about what is and isn’t hyperbole with all of this, and in the interest of not having our conversation turn negative all over again, I will just leave it at that.

  447. Peter Jacobs says:

    Joshua,

    After reading your comment above and then clicking on the link, even reading the quoted passages with formatting, I still don’t understand what questions you have or points you want to convey. I could guess, but I would rather not assume and then be accused of “strawmanning” for failing to accurately summarize and respond to what it is you’re trying to say.

    If there are points or questions that are going unanswered, please simply restate them. I recognize that this might cost you additional time, but I believe that it will save us both time in the long run, because it will help avoid the possibility of me assuming the wrong thing.

    Also, I guess I don’t understand the dynamic on this blog. I would think that asking a question of someone for the purposes of taking a dig at another commentor would be something you would object to, rather than engage in. This is why I am asking for consistent standards of behavior, because there are none, as far as I can tell. Or failing consistency, a little slack on how you perceive my comportment.

  448. Joshua says:

    Peter –

    As you may have surmised, I read Kahan’s blog quite a bit. IMO, Kahan’s arguments have been mischaracterized up and down this thread – pretty much relentlessly, if not by you than by Dana. Willard has given some very nice examples of excerpts from Kahan that directly refuted the mischaracterizations.

    In addition, there have been multiple straw man arguments presented about Kahan “worshipers” or people who “parrot Kahan,” or people who hold your work to a “real world” standard but not Kahan’s. As far as I can tell, these have all been fictions, rhetorical devices used to invalidly undermine Kahan’s work. You still have the opportunity to walk that back if you choose to do so. All you need to do is read my comment that I reference above.

    And AFAIC, you have consistently ducked responsibility for all of this.

    I don’t agree with all of Kahan’s criticisms of “consensus messaging,” not by a long shot, actually. But I don’t think that you can present a valid counterargument by misrepresenting his views or by invalidly criticizing other arguments against your views by leveraging straw men related to Kahan. I think that this is all pretty weird, actually I find it confusing.

    I think that your efforts will be suboptimal if you don’t change your approach. Just an opinion from a climate blog tr*ll. Take it for what it’s worth.

  449. Joshua says:

    Peter – your 4:35 went up as I was writing my 4:46.

    I thought that my points in that comment were pretty clear. For example, the direct reference to the “parroting Kahan” straw man, or the reference to people who have a double standard w/rt a “real world” standard.” – when no one here in this thread was doing that

    But if you don’t see it, you don’t see it, and I believe at this point that no explanation will get the job done. As they say,it is what it is., so it’s probably best that we just move on.

  450. Peter Jacobs says:

    Joshua,

    If you have some questions or statements that you think I have not addressed, please feel free to restate them. I’m not super interested in feelings and tone and the like.

    I take full responsibility for my own language. People do “parrot” Kahan (or what they imagine his results are). They talk about how his “consensus” testing paper 2010/11 (dueling experts prove consensus messaging debunks consensus messaging without having read the paper it’s based on at all. People come up to me and talk to me about “external validity” as though it’s something that was always a criterion for accepting social science results rather than a post hoc justification for accepting some results and throwing out others when they use the same methodology.

    And I didn’t say “worship”. Dana has addressed his own use of this phrase. I find the notion that I should be somehow responsible for someone’s dislike of the phrase used by a different person somewhere between silly and galling.

    I don’t particularly care if you don’t agree with all of Kahan’s criticisms. I don’t particularly care if Willard (who I feel like I am seeing more eye to eye with as this goes on) has played “ClimateBall” on behalf of Cook et al., 2013, or with people that are better at it than me. None of this is relevant to the supposed problems with or benefits of consensus messaging. None of it moves the larger discussion forward.

    I like an Kahan as a person. I appreciate and value his work, in many, many areas. I take his opinions seriously. We agree on very, very many things. And it is hard for me to disagree with someone who is publicly in a position of more prestige than I am. I am probably closing doors for myself. I do so to my own detriment, although I do so in good conscience because I think the evidence (to date) is pretty lopsided against his criticisms.

    I will admit to not following what Kahan says on his blog all that much. I am more concerned with what he publishes, and what he says in conferences and to the press. If you believe I have mischaracterized something Kahan has said, please state it, and I will apologize or substantiate it to the best of my ability. As for Willard quoting things that Kahan says on his blog, I’ve answered that. His (Kahan’s) arguments are fluid and possibly audience-dependent. Claiming that he doesn’t object to consensus messaging in theory but rather to its use as a partisan bludgeon simply doesn’t accord with the reality of his reaction to the non-partisan context of its hypothetical use in future AAAS campaigns.

    This seems like it’s getting a little snippy, and I really am not interested in going down that road. We’ve established you don’t like the attitudes of me, Dana, people who I don’t know but somehow also am supposed to answer for, et al.

    Let’s depersonalize this and get to the point. I will do the best I can to address your concerns about the facts at issue here. I am happy to do that.

  451. Peter Jacobs says:

    Joshua,

    It sounds like at least some of your concern is based on your assumption that references to various supporters of Kahan are directed to or about you.

    If they are not, which I take you at your word that they don’t apply to you, what is your objection? Because if it is to say that they apply to no one, that is unquestionably false. I deal with them in person.

    Taking offense about something that doesn’t even apply to you in any way is along the same lines as asking me to take responsibility for other people’s comments that I have nothing to do with. I can’t see the utility other than to derail and make things about the person whose feelings are supposedly hurt instead of the actual issue under discussion.

  452. Joshua says:

    ==> “I will do the best I can to address your concerns about the facts at issue here.

    I accept that you’ve done the best that you can, Peter.

    I think we can both agree it’s time to move on.

  453. Peter Jacobs says:

    I am happy to answer questions, concerns, or whatever, regardless of where they come from. I hear you saying you’re done, and I appreciate and respect that. If you change your mind, I won’t throw it back at you. Have a good evening.

  454. Steve Bloom says:

    Joshua has bowed out like this before. In particular, on a couple occasions I’ve challenged him to get under the hood of Kahan’s stuff and rather than do that he “moved on.” But Anders seems to find hidden depths in him.

    I’ve been reading but haven’t had time to comment in the last day, but I’m developing some thoughts based on this thread and should be able to put them up in a couple days.

  455. M2,
    I think you’re making far too big a deal out of my tent analogy. It was just an anology. If you want to be in another tent, that’s absolutely fine, just don’t complain when the people in a different tent end up being the ones who influence decision making more than the people in your tent, especially if you were regularly invited to join the other tent.

  456. The correlation we see with eduction could also be due to another ideological axis that is not considered. In the two-party system in the USA it might feel natural to put ideology on a liberal-conservative or on a more or less free market axis.

    Both in Germany and The Netherlands you used to have two big parties in the middle, one left (social democrats) and one right (the christian democrats). To the right of the christian democrats you would have the classical liberals (not as radical the US libertarians). To the left of the social democrats you would have the green party. Generally the classical liberals and the greens have their base in people with better education and higher incomes as the two big parties. There might be more different in people with higher eduction as just their education.

  457. Willard says:

    My own hypothesis regarding the polarization of education would be authority:

    The perception of consensus typically produces conformity, but specific attributional circumstances may produce deviance instead. Ironically, the command of an authority figure may create one such circumstance. Participants were presented with scenarios in which they had to make a choice between 2 options. Prior to their decision, they observed others all making a single choice. In some conditions, this consensus occurred following an authority’s explicit command to make that choice. Results revealed the hypothesized effect—the authority’s command led participants to make deviant decisions—and revealed that this effect was moderated by the authority’s continued presence, expertise, the target(s) of the command, and the ability of perceivers to use their cognitive resources.

    http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/89/3/311.html

    Authority is one pillar of our moral foundations:

    4) Authority/subversion: This foundation was shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. It underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.

    http://www.moralfoundations.org

  458. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard, that’s interesting, thanks. My first take on that link is that it would have little bearing on consensus messaging as it is currently being examined, which does not rely on the presence and command of an authority figure to take a specific action. In fact, it appears to me to suggest that personalizing the consensus by tying it to individuals would work against its inherent strength, which I mentioned is my suspicion as well.

    Arguments about the nature of authority and the logical or philosophical validity of appeals to it are interesting, but I would again suggest that this is well beyond the scope of the problem as it stands. People trust scientists and are influenced by perceptions of scientific consensus. People currently underestimate the level of scientific consensus on a very basic issue. I absolutely am not discouraging anyone from going much deeper into the weeds on a host of more esoteric topics, but I do not see the utility in such for the purposes of the basic consensus gap issue.

    I am drawing on the philosophy of science to evaluate the consensus on climate in terms of Boaz Miller’s conditions for distinguishing between knowledge-based consensus vs. mere agreement, but I am doing so with the understanding that it is well beyond the interest level of the public. If I am wrong, that would be much better for me personally, so I don’t think it’s self-interest that is driving my position on this.

  459. L Hamilton says:

    Victor, thanks for the European perspective. I checked the two regional US datasets that I’m working with this week and found the most striking educational difference along our 4-party spectrum is that while the parties may have similar proportions of people with bachelor’s degrees, among Democrats there is a notably higher fraction with postgraduate education.

    As for the education*politics interactions in my graphs above, I meant to emphasize that the same basic patterns occur if the X axis is objectively-measured science literacy, or self-assessed understanding; Kahan has something similar based on numerical literacy (math word problems). So I think of these most generally as information*politics interactions, not simply education*politics and so forth. Why do they occur? My working guess has been biased assimilation (which goes by many theoretical names) more energetically/effectively applied by the information elite. My sociological colleagues might emphasize differential awareness of elite cues, as well (what your political/media leaders think).

    Anyway, this family of similar patterns occurs with a variety of environmental questions (like beach pollution above), but seems most acute and consistent regarding climate change. So what I started out by wondering aloud here, without having consensus-messaging experimental data myself, is whether there is a message*politics interaction that has the same basic form as my survey graphs above, and hence plausibly shares at leas part of their explanation. And also their implication that some things have positive and polarizing effects both; the *main effects* could be more important for policy implications than the interactions (Peter seems to say the same thing in different words), although analysts doe not always draw these out.

  460. Hamilton, may I ask as an European, what would be the 4-party spectrum in the USA?

    That you can substitute various measures of education and various environmental problems does not surprise me much. Many mitigation sceptics seem to have a general problem with a large range of environmental problems and many aspects of the cultural values of the greens (pacifism, equal rights, etc.) In that respect they, again fit well to the classical liberals in Europe, that despise the greens the most. I guess that is mutual, the best way to annoy any of them is to point out that they have the same cultural, educational middle class background as the other group. 🙂

    Do you have any information on incomes or willingness to take risks or perceived control of ones life or something like that? It would be interesting to see if that has an even better predictive capacity as education.

    My naive guess would be that something like that may well be what actually produces the ideological differences between the classical liberals and the conservatives and between the social democrats and the greens. The classical liberals seem to like creative destruction more than the conservatives that want to support the current business elites (in the US this seems to be more blurred, but maybe that is just rhetorically, hard to judge from here). The classical liberals seem to be confident to benefit from economic upheaval. The social democrats and greens both favor redistribution. However, the greens would likely suffer income reductions from that, but they do not seem to mind and are confident that they would still thrive in such a better society.

    The ramblings of an amateur political “scientist”. At least that is something political scientists and climatologists have in common, for both fields the outsiders think to have great ideas about it.

  461. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua says: (December 23, 2014 at 5:41 am) “To the extent that their are conservatives out there promoting consensus messaging, it might be effective”

    It almost certainly will not be effective on conservatives because “consensus” is a dog-whistle that identifies the topic with the socialist left. The very fact of consensus is a “caution” to a conservative; certainly to a libertarian. It signifies “herd” and in fact is a distraction from what your message ought to be.

    ATTP is sensing that the way to approach a problem is to declare the problem. Some people will get it, most won’t, and you can try your tricks on those that don’t but recent elections in Australia and the United States suggests that the backlash is more than Dana is willing to acknowledge.

    Willard identifies consensus messaging as an appeal to authority. I agree. Sometimes the authority is “legitimate” but quite often that legitimacy is circular and defines itself. A Catholic cites the pope, and that is a legitimate appeal to the one true authority of Catholicism — but does that authority actually know the particulars of Elohim? Probably not, but he does speak for Catholics.

    So what is the nature of the consensus authority? Well, it created itself for starters. Who was the first climatologist? Who bestowed the first Climatology degree? Whoever it was, that person wasn’t himself or herself a climatologist. What is John Cook? What is ATTP? What is Lewandowsky? This whole entire conglomeration of consensus messaging created itself, it is “emergent” and its authorities are accepted as such only within this “tent”.

    Among Catholics, the word of the pope is the word of G*d. No other authority is superior and to even think of the possibility is heresy. Is it that way among your own true believers? Come to think of it, an alliance exists between global warming and atheism; this fact alone breeds suspicion among the worlds billion Christians and over-a-billion Muslims.

    The mere act of appealing to consensus politicizes it. Much commercial advertising uses the same techniques and I think most modern humans are at least somewhat inured or immunized from it.

    “In experiment one, female participants are shown to generate higher purchase intention when ads feature consensus claims as opposed no consensus claims. Male participants, on the other hand, are shown not to express different levels of purchase intentions when being exposed to these two types of ad content.”
    http://research.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/1/1/2/5/6/p112568_index.html

    “…but only for individuals with a high need for closure as opposed to low.” (same source)

    I’m not sure what is “closure” but I suspect it means somewhat the same thing as I mean when I identify some persons as having a need to belong to a group (or herd).

    While most here accept the obvious, what seems to be highly variable is your estimation of the magnitude of the non-acceptance of this consensus.

  462. Michael 2 says:

    If I were to craft a message to make a difference with libertarians, I would say as I do — the day is coming, gradually, but it is coming that electricity is going to be scarce and expensive. Under present technology it cannot be any other way. Gradually changing lifestyle is most assuredly in the future of most modern civilizations. You can prepare now and consider it part of life’s great adventure, or you can be caught unprepared and suffer unpredictable consequences.

    A case history is Iceland (Alda Sigmundsdottir, “The Little Book of the Icelanders”). They did not run out of trees for fuel suddenly; it was gradual and as wood became scarce, Icelanders started to live in one room with a single fireplace, then moved into the barn over the animals so that animal heat provided much of the warmth to be had in winter. It was not luxury.

    Technology now provides Iceland with abundant hydropower as well as geothermal heat. Such a thing could not be anticipated and even if it was anticipated it took hundreds of years to arrive.

    So it is possible, even likely, that technology will eventually solve our energy problems but there’s likely to be a gap between the arrival of the new technology and the exhaustion of the old. Start now to make do with less electricity. You don’t need less light, just less electricity! LED illumination is amazing — better color rendition (I use 5000k daylight LED’s and there’s a lot of variability in color rendition), instant “on” (no warmup as with CFL’s), almost negligible electricity usage, fairly easy conversion to solar power — you can light up an entire (modest) house of LED’s with a hundred watts of inverter. Think of your house as an “RV” — Recreational Vehicles are efficient.

    Boy Scouts are taught many skills useful in this regard because while society may have some decades left, each person might not. When the time comes that heat and water is scarce, Boy Scouts might remember skills they learned in their youth, camping in winter, brushing teeth with only a sip of water, scrubbing pots with sand and then using a few tablespoons of water to rinse out the sand. Wearing suitable clothing. It isn’t luxury but most citizens on Earth live that kind of life every day.

    Until the day comes that actual advances in technology exist, it seems certain that societies will use their resources instead of freezing or starving, and if “society” cannot be saved, maybe YOU can be.

  463. BBD says:

    It almost certainly will not be effective on conservatives because “consensus” is a dog-whistle that identifies the topic with the socialist left. The very fact of consensus is a “caution” to a conservative; certainly to a libertarian. It signifies “herd” and in fact is a distraction from what your message ought to be.

    And you wonder why you are marginalised as nutters.

  464. miker613 says:

    Well, I’m back. I’m withdrawing my earlier comment about a survey asking about climate sensitivity, as I can’t seem to find it; very annoying. Anyhow, I don’t remember if they mentioned the “40%” figure I suggested, or if that was just me eyeballing some graph.

    It is very interesting to see people like Joshua fighting on the “skeptical” side on this issue, as I so often see him fighting on the other side on judithcurry and the like. He and others like him deserve respect for fighting on whichever side he thinks is right. Most of us tend to prefer the arguments that lead to the conclusions we prefer – which is of course Kahan’s point. I don’t often get to see Robert Ways, who will tell their own people that the skeptical folks got this major issue right and they would be well advised to acknowledge it.

    I’m a little bewildered by several of the comments up above, which suggest that “97%” is actually focussed on the issues that really matter most to people. I don’t understand which people are meant. There are those who don’t know any climate science, for whom “I don’t believe in global warming” is some kind of proxy for “I don’t want the UN running people’s lives”. Convince them that the world is warming, and they will quickly check on Fox News or whatever for the next issue in question and start asking about the climate models or such. And there are those who do know a little more (like me), for whom the other issues are paramount. Convince me that climate sensitivity is high, or that the impacts are likely to be disastrous, and I will put my neolibertarian reluctance aside and pitch in to save the world, and grit my teeth on the harm that I expect that will do to people in China and India and Africa who will have to remain in grinding poverty. Ignore those issues, and keep telling me about how many climate scientists think the world is “getting warmer”, and I will continue to think that someone is trying to scam me by pretending that there is a consensus on the issues that matter.
    BDD called this a “conspiracy theory” up above, and maybe he’s right: you don’t need a conspiracy, just less-than-honest people who think it’s an effective argument. And judging by the discussion here, the people don’t even need to be less-than-honest! Just deluded in thinking that convincing people on these trivial basically settled issues will make a difference. (As Kahan also documents, liberals tend to be really bad at understanding how conservatives think.)

  465. miker613,

    Convince me that climate sensitivity is high, or that the impacts are likely to be disastrous, and I will put my neolibertarian reluctance aside and pitch in to save the world, and grit my teeth on the harm that I expect that will do to people in China and India and Africa who will have to remain in grinding poverty.

    Except, in my view, this isn’t really the way to look at this. Surely what we should be considering is the possibility that it is high, the consequences of it being high, and the costs/risks associated with minimising the impacts of a high climate sensitivity? I don’t think it needs to be shown to be high. Simply the possibility that it could be high might be sufficient to take action. Of course, this possibility has to be balanced with the risks/costs associated with mitigating, but I don’t think that a sensible risk analysis requires showing that something will definitely happen, it simply requires showing that the risk of it happening is sufficient to take action.

  466. BBD says:

    miker

    keep telling me about how many climate scientists think the world is “getting warmer”, and I will continue to think that someone is trying to scam me by pretending that there is a consensus on the issues that matter.
    BDD called this a “conspiracy theory” up above, and maybe he’s right: you don’t need a conspiracy, just less-than-honest people who think it’s an effective argument.

    It’s a conspiracy theory and therefore the creation and natural domain of paranoid, right-wing nutters.

  467. miker613 says:

    BBD, are you going to tell me about the paranoid, left-wing nutters who keep talking about the billions in Big Oil Money and the Denial Lobby? When it’s obvious to anyone who has a clear head that climate change skepticism is a natural position of people who are reluctant to accept the solutions proposed? No conspiracy of any kind needed, but that doesn’t seem to slow anyone down who keeps talking about Heartland and the Koch brothers.

  468. Joshua says:

    M 2 –

    ==> “It almost certainly will not be effective on conservatives because “consensus” is a dog-whistle that identifies the topic with the socialist left. The very fact of consensus is a “caution” to a conservative; certainly to a libertarian. It signifies “herd” and in fact is a distraction from what your message ought to be.

    I was referring to the evidence from the research – which shows that “consensus messaging” might stimulate a reflexively negative reaction when it comes from “them,” but not when it comes from “us.” If you want to show that the research is wrong, you need to address the evidence directly. Simply making an argument by assertion, IMO, is not particularly convincing.

    I’d say that the evidence is pretty strong that libertarians are not immune to the influence of cultural cognition – which would mean that they’d likely be influenced by how they identify vis-a-vis the person speaking about the “consensus.” Not to say that if a group is generally more contrarian by nature that they might not be more likely to reject “consensus messaging,” but although libertarians like to think of themselves as being dispositionally contrarian, I doubt it. If I were just going to go with my feelings and anecdotal experience, I’d say that lefties are dispositionally contrarian. What’s funny about that, is that self-identified libertarians tell me all the time (with complete certainty) that lefties are dispositionally statists and authoritarians.

    If I said to you, as an example, that the vast majority of researchers who study the impact of gun regulations agree that regulating guns does not reduce gun violence, would you reflexively hear that as a dog-whistle for the “socialist left?”

    ==> “The very fact of consensus is a “caution” to a conservative; certainly to a libertarian.”

    Sorry, but I think that is idealized, wishful thinking, and unrealistic. I would say that you are unlikely to come across many people who are as reflexively anti-authoritarian as I am – but that doesn’t mean that when someone tells me that there is high prevalence of agreement among “experts” that I will just dismiss that information out of hand. I will consider that the information is a product of “group-think” and authoritarianism and weigh it against the probability that if there is widespread agreement among those who study an issue in-depth then it means that the strongest evidence runs in that direction.

    Most people do that, and with good reason. But the calculus they use is influenced by identification-related variables.

  469. miker613,

    When it’s obvious to anyone who has a clear head that climate change skepticism is a natural position of people who are reluctant to accept the solutions proposed?

    Are you sure you really meant to say this? True skepticism should be based on an analysis of the available scientific evidence, not based on what the evidence suggests we might want to consider doing. What you’ve just said is the problem I have with this topic. It’s should be possible to accept the evidence (broadly at least) while arguing against what some propose should be done. To be skeptical of the scientific evidence because of what it suggests we might need to do, is not – IMO – skepticism.

  470. L Hamilton says:

    Victor:
    “may I ask as an European, what would be the 4-party spectrum in the USA?”

    Our paper “A four-party view of US environmental concern” can be downloaded (free for now) from the journal:
    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09644016.2014.976485#.VKA8Tf8CCt

    There could be air quotes around “party,” our 4 US groups are Democrats, Independents, Republicans, and Tea Party supporters. Definitions given in the paper, along with how this 4-party scheme predicts responses to a dozen different environmental or science questions (statistically controlling for gender, age, education and date of the survey). There is a strong party-line gradient across all questions except for self-assessed understanding of climate change, where Tea Party supporters are most confident.

    “Do you have any information on incomes or willingness to take risks or perceived control of ones life or something like that? It would be interesting to see if that has an even better predictive capacity as education.”

    We routinely test for income effects but often don’t include them in the final analysis. Income effects on environment/science views tend to be weaker and inconsistent, once you control for education effects (one exception under investigation involves income effects on perceptions related to storm damage). If income is not theoretically required and empirically does not make much difference, I prefer to set it aside — because it gets many “no answer” responses on surveys, which raise further complications.

  471. BBD says:

    miker

    BBD, are you going to tell me about the paranoid, left-wing nutters who keep talking about the billions in Big Oil Money and the Denial Lobby?

    You are now denying established matters of fact, ie. that the denial machine is covertly funded by vested interest. Denying matters of fact is often a symptom of being a paranoid right-wing nutter:

    Brulle (2013):

    Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations

    This paper conducts an analysis of the financial resource mobilization of the organizations that make up the climate change counter-movement (CCCM) in the United States. Utilizing IRS data, total annual income is compiled for a sample of CCCM organizations (including advocacy organizations, think tanks, and trade associations). These data are coupled with IRS data on philanthropic foundation funding of these CCCM organizations contained in the Foundation Center’s data base. This results in a data sample that contains financial information for the time period 2003 to 2010 on the annual income of 91 CCCM organizations funded by 140 different foundations. An examination of these data shows that these 91 CCCM organizations have an annual income of just over $900 million, with an annual average of $64 million in identifiable foundation support. The overwhelming majority of the philanthropic support comes from conservative foundations. Additionally, there is evidence of a trend toward concealing the sources of CCCM funding through the use of donor directed philanthropies.

  472. BBD says:

    Here are some facts, miker:

    – there is a denial industry

    – it is funded by vested interests from big oil down to individual nutters of high net worth

    – it is a politically activist tool for distorting public policy with the aim of protecting future financial gain from regulation

    – the scientific consensus arises from the scientific evidence and is of itself apolitical

    – you have misrepresented all this hideously above and need to get a grip

  473. miker613 says:

    “Surely what we should be considering is the possibility that it is high, the consequences of it being high, and the costs/risks associated with minimising the impacts of a high climate sensitivity? I don’t think it needs to be shown to be high. Etc.” ATTP, 100%. However, recent evidence tends to be indicate a lower sensitivity, maybe much lower. More importantly (to me) is that the recent evidence will tend to rule out very high sensitivities, and maybe make very bad consequences much less likely. That is surely good news for everyone, if it works out to be true. However YMMV on how that will work out since there are many ways to estimate. (You probably already know that I have a different impression from many here on how reliable some of the other ways are.)

    But as for the question of dealing with risk, I agree completely, but obviously it must depend on how much risk and how much cost, and how much cost on the mitigation side. You can understand maybe that someone with a very different take on economics and politics might differ in these by literally orders of magnitude. I don’t think that there is anything remotely resembling a consensus on these issues. Bjorn Lomborg’s team of economists have Nobel Prizes too; they don’t seem to come out with the same answers as Paul Krugman.
    And as for the politics, China will continue to build coal plants every week till solar is truly cheaper – just as they say they will – and that will probably happen around mid-century. India will do the same. Africa will do the same, when they can. Those who want to speed the process will support research in renewables and electric cars and encourage China to learn clean fracking. Those who prefer feel-good theatre will continue fighting with the Heartland Institute and closing nuclear plants in Europe.

    [ATTP, I’m curious why I seem to be in moderation?]

  474. miker613 says:

    “Are you sure you really meant to say this? True skepticism should be based on an analysis of the available scientific evidence, not based on what the evidence suggests we might want to consider doing. What you’ve just said is the problem I have with this topic.”
    I definitely did mean to say it. It’s not compimentary to the skeptical side. But then I have exactly the same observations about the non-skeptical side; they tend to like the solutions proposed and therefore like the science. Their positions reverse when you talk about nuclear power or GM foods or – choose your own topic. Read the comments sections on pretty much any popular forum and see how much science most people are really familiar with.
    What should I do? Most people are not scientists, most people don’t even have the time or inclination to even seriously follow the issues without working through the scientific papers. They tend to listen to the experts they prefer. It is no accident that conservatives are much more anti-AGW – and it is no accident that liberals are much more pro-AGW.
    So anyhow, I repeat my point. Most anti-AGW is based on political preferences, not science. Convince them that all scientists know that the earth has warmed, they will move on to the next open issue. The rest of us have moved on already and are annoyed with harping on old issues.

  475. miker613 says:

    “Here are some facts, miker:
    – there is a denial industry
    – it is funded by vested interests from big oil down to individual nutters of high net worth….”
    Don’t mean to speak ill, BDD, but you’re sounding like one of the left-wing nutter conspiracy theory types. The really effective skeptics are a few retired folks posting on their own blogs. None of them has significant funding, most have none at all. None of the skeptic funding out there can ever begin to compare with Greenpeace or WWF. See the Gleick Papers for the amoung of funding Koch gave to Heartland – pathetic. Neither you nor I even knows what Heartland said about anything at all in the last two years, right? The Koch brothers did fund one significant thing that I know about – the BEST project.
    Among their many PR mistakes (97% is one of them, as we’ve been discussing and as they can never understand), AGW supporters make a big mistake when they talk about the Denial Industry. So many of us skeptical types know that we have absolutely no connection to whatever they’re talking about; all our skeptical information is coming from our favorite blogs run by retired enthusiasts and such. That’s enough. You just reinforce the fact that you don’t understand us. How are we supposed to ever accept that climate scientists know what they’re doing, when the public face of climate science seems so clueless about everything under the sun?

  476. miker613 says:

    BDD, your Bruile link is absurd. They seem to have calculated the total net worth of every conservative organization in the US! How can you take this kind of nonsense seriously?

  477. miker613,

    I have exactly the same observations about the non-skeptical side; they tend to like the solutions proposed and therefore like the science.

    If you’re referring to climate science, then I rarely see anything consistent with this. I regularly see “skeptics” who seem to be basing their skepticism on a fear of what might happen if we decide to act. I can’t think of an example of someone on the other side who says “I really like wind turbines, therefore I believe climate change is real.”

    Their positions reverse when you talk about nuclear power or GM foods or – choose your own topic. Read the comments sections on pretty much any popular forum and see how much science most people are really familiar with.

    Yes, I agree that there are those who accept climate science who then have views that are at odds with respect to the scientific evidence when it comes to GMOs/nuclear. I don’t really see this as particularly relevant or why you’d want to essentially do the same when it comes to climate science.

    [ATTP, I’m curious why I seem to be in moderation?]

    You were, but I can’t remember why. I’ve taken you out.

  478. BBD says:

    miker

    BDD, your Bruile link is absurd. They seem to have calculated the total net worth of every conservative organization in the US! How can you take this kind of nonsense seriously?

    Perhaps you were reading very quickly. I suggest another look.

    Don’t mean to speak ill, BDD, but you’re sounding like one of the left-wing nutter conspiracy theory types. The really effective skeptics are a few retired folks posting on their own blogs.

    That’s not really how it works. If you are genuinely unaware of the way that lobbying distorts public policy, then you are more innocent than I supposed.

    Here’s some financial data on the funding of the denial industry. That’s a lot of money for you to brush under the carpet.

  479. Michael 2: The very fact of consensus is a “caution” to a conservative; certainly to a libertarian. It signifies “herd” and in fact is a distraction from what your message ought to be.

    You mean like the consensus of the Tea Party followers that climate change is no real risk? I am happy to hear that you will now think more critically about this consensus, now that you know it signifies “herd”. In fact it signifies herd because it is about a societal issue, which is complex by nature. A consensus on a matter of science is much easier to attain by gather scientific evidence.

    ATTP: “It’s should be possible to accept the evidence (broadly at least) while arguing against what some propose should be done. To be skeptical of the scientific evidence because of what it suggests we might need to do, is not – IMO – skepticism.”

    Exactly. When you are against the solutions, the natural position is to argue against the solutions.

    miker613 says: I definitely did mean to say it. It’s not compimentary to the skeptical side. But then I have exactly the same observations about the non-skeptical side; they tend to like the solutions proposed and therefore like the science. Their positions reverse when you talk about nuclear power or GM foods…

    Not exactly. The people against nuclear power do not argue that radioactivity does not exist. The people against GM foods do not argue that genes do not exist.

    A large part of the people against mitigation do argue that it is not warming, that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas or that the climate sensitivity is lower without considering all the evidence.

    I do not understand this kamikaze strategy of the mitigation sceptics. Why does this make sense?

    It would be great progress and allow for an adult conversation when people would just have their differences about the economic and social benefits and drawbacks of the solutions and problems. Then we could talk about what is best for China and India and Africa.

    Hamilton, Thank you.

    An article I just read in the Scientific American might be interesting for this discussion. It distinguishes between intelligence and rational thinking and argues that it is not highly correlated. I guess eduction mainly measures intelligence, rather than rational thinking, although ideally the latter would be taught. Thus maybe rational thinking could be an interesting alternative for education (not suggesting that one side of the political spectrum is more rational; everyone probably sees his own side as more rational).

  480. miker613 says:

    More of the same, BBD. Cato Institute does a lot more than climate change. Even Heartland, if you look at Peter Gleick’s documents, you’ll see that climate change is a very small part of their budget. You are taking every organization that opposes AGW and counting all their money, as if that’s all they do. The truth is that almost all that money is for general conservative causes. And the other way round: there is no reason to think that everything Exxon-Mobil funds is about climate change, or any of the others.
    Simple statistical question: what number of schools in the US or world-wide are teaching kids about AGW? Now what number are teaching that AGW is nonsense? I submit that the first number is vastly larger. (Note that the Heartland documents discussed trying to do outreach to schools.) Am I wrong? If I’m right, what could all those secretive zillionaires do that would be more effective than teaching kids in school? Am I missing a barrage of commercials or movies? Have you-all seen them?
    Why is it so hard to believe that a lot of people just don’t agree with you? Especially once you have Kahan’s very simple expanation of how people are predisposed to believe in things where they prefer the outcomes?

    “If you’re referring to climate science, then I rarely see anything consistent with this.” ATTP, why isn’t this a good example of exactly what you said you’ve never seen? Pro-AGW people like BBD, otherwise reasonable, are very pre-disposed to believe total nonsense on this topic. ‘Course, I don’t know what he feels about wind turbines.
    Note that BBD not only seems to believe in a left-wing nutter conspiracy theory, he actually said that my failure to believe in it is proof of my being a right-wing nutter conspiracy theorist. What about the rest of you? Does his argument make sense to you, or are you very surprised that you are suddenly being pegged as right-wing nutters as well?

    As for ATTP’ s question: What about predictions that are much _more_ severe than the IPCC standard? Which of us has not seen people who prefer the AGW mitigation _solutions_ offering comments about how the world is burning, human life is ending, there is already vastly increased damage from extreme weather, we are already expecting tens of meters of sea level rise,…: find your own comments; we all see them out there plenty. There are climate scientists who are concerned with these possibilities, but so many people listen only to those scientists even on things that the IPCC considers low or very low probability. Why aren’t you counting them?
    And what about related issues like nuclear power? That’s a CO2 mitigation issue. James Hansen has tried very hard to move the needle on nuclear power, but hardly any people who like wind turbines are listening to him. They are quick with all kinds of proofs against, and all kinds of proofs in favor of wind turbines and solar power and the like, with very different quality standards for the two.

  481. miker613,

    ATTP, why isn’t this a good example of exactly what you said you’ve never seen?

    Because I thought you were referring to people who believe in climate science because they like the policy implications. That’s what I don’t think I’ve seen.

    To be honest, I’m not actually particularly interested in delving into the “big oil funds” argument.

  482. BBD says:

    miker

    The evidence is there. You are free to deny it but it is still there.

  483. miker613 says:

    ATTP, it would be hard to find exactly that, since, as we all agree, the great majority of climate scientists agree with the consensus. It’s a lot easier to agree with the great majority of climate scientists than to disagree.
    That is why I picked examples (very bad extreme weather right now…) where people who like mitigation _disagree_ with the great majority of climate scientists, or at least with the IPCC.

  484. Willard says:

    Peter,

    I now have time to return to [L13]. The authors report two experiments, which indicate that:

    – perceived scientific consensus is associated with acceptance of science;
    – acceptance of AGW does not differ from those scientific issues;
    – highlighting a scientific consensus increases acceptance;
    – processing consensus information attenuated the impact of worldview or ideology.

    I won’t discuss these results, and assume they are correct. I had two things in mind for my review.

    ***

    First, the procedure:

    After providing an initial estimate of how many climate scientists out of 100 would support the basic principles of AGW, participants in the control condition were shown a neutral statement about climate change. Participants in the consensus condition were instead informed, via a text passage and a graphic, that 97 out of 100 climate experts agree that global warming is a consequence of the burning of fossil fuels. This information was immediately followed by recall of the consensus information to verify comprehension […] Participants in both conditions then judged the presumed causal contribution from human CO2 emissions to three global climate trends (item type (c) in Table 1) and the presumed causal contribution to four specific extreme-weather events (item type (d) in Table 1). Two of the extreme events have been explicitly linked to AGW in the literature; viz. the European heat wave of 2003 [S04] and the Russian heat extremes of 2010 [RC11]. The two flood events, by contrast, have so far not been attributed to human emissions. Participants also responded to a subset of the items used in Study 1 (types (a) and (b) in Table 1) before completing a 5-point scale that queried their attitudes towards the free market.

    The first thing to notice is that the claim “97 out of 100 climate experts agree that global warming is a consequence of the burning of fossil fuels” is based on [DZ09] in the text. The authors refer to [A11] and [O04], but not to backup the 97% number.

    I remarked earlier that I don’t think DZ09 warrants that claim; no survey so far does, including Cook et al 2013. Their survey of less than 80 authors who list climate science as their area of expertise and have published more than 50% of their papers on climate change has not been tested for representivity.

    Appealing to [S04] and [RC11] seems to ask for trouble for no good reason. It’s far from obvious that to “explicitly link” events with climate change has a clear meaning. It arguably conflates types of events with events as tokens. Worse, this kind of attribution exercise has little to do with the consensus claim.

    The robustness of a “consensus gap” suffers in result of these two criticisms. This should not matter much for the experiments, which were cognitive in nature. However, the acceptance of science induced by the experiments can only be considered from a cognitive perspective.

    ***

    Second, the discussion, especially about K11:

    At first glance, our results challenge the results of Kahan and colleagues, that perceived consensus operates like any other fact that is equally subject to dismissal as other evidence surrounding AGW [K11]. However, on closer inspection, the study by Kahan did not provide socially-normative information about a consensus (that is, ‘97 out of 100’) but instead presented participants with an informational vignette, attributed to a fictional expert, that either described the risk from climate change or downplayed it. Because this manipulation provided anecdotal rather than social-norming information, it is not surprising that participants rated the source as less trustworthy if the message was worldview dissonant.

    Lew et al 2013 follows on by saying that normative information “is widely assumed to be more resilient to ideologically-motivated dismissal.” To that effect, they cite Carrico et al 2011 [C11] and Lew et al 2012 [L12]. There’s an interesting video by Edward Maibach on the page where I found L12:

    Lew et al 2013 also speaks of “techniques for the delivery of normative information,” which shows that the authors assume that delivery matters. This assumption is also present when they express their lack of surprise about their hypothesis according to which an “informational vignette” is less trustworthy than an “socially-normative information.” I don’t wish to criticize this assumption, only to underline that “consensus messaging” is based on normative information.

    ***

    These two points help me return to appeals to authority.

    Consensus messaging provides normative information or convey social norms. Their legitimacy is thus quite relevant. An analysis that legitimizes appeals to authority gives to the endeavour an ethical warrant. This warrant is strong enough to parry Mike Hulme’s argument against it. This argument has also been seen elsewhere, e.g.:

    Personally, I regard it as an example of ad hominem argument and usually dismiss it. Likewise, “consensus” is a form of argument ad populam, and likewise a logical fallacy.

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2014/6/20/response-an-externally-valid-approach-to-consensus-messaging-1.html

    Being able to counter this fallacy fallacy matters to me.

    ***

    We should distinguish between putting faces on the consensus and “personalizing” it. The more faces we can see, the tougher it would be for the contrarians to personalize it. Just like the Internet: an all decentralized network of a myriad of entry points.

    Lastly, I have not discussed the “polarization” issue. This is the crux of the matter, as far as I can read. I can return to it in an another comment if you’re interested. In a nutshell, I surmise that there is a polarization, both on the population level (cf. Larry’s results) and on the Internetz. There’s nothing much we can do about that: ClimateBall is here to stay, and the only way to lose is not to play.

    Best,

    W

    ***

    http://climateinterpreter.org/ is a nice initiative!

    [A11]: http://www.pnas.org/content/107/27/12107.short

    [C11]: http://groups.law.gwu.edu/JEEL/ArticlePDF/2-1-Carrico.pdf

    [DZ09]: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2009EO030002/pdf

    [K11]: http://climateinterpreter.org/sites/default/files/resources/Kahan,%20Jenkins-Smith%20and%20Braman%202010%20-%20Cultural%20cognition%20of%20scientific%20consensus.pdf

    [L12]: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/journals/pspi/misinformation1.html

    [L13]: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n4/abs/nclimate1720.html

    [O04]: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/306/5702/1686.full

    [R12]: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2026002

    [RC11]: http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~stefan/Publications/Nature/rahmstorf_coumou_2011.pdf

    [S04]: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v427/n6972/abs/nature02300.html

  485. Peter Jacobs says:

    Willard,

    Thanks for these comments. I am still in the middle of a family visit and don’t have time to do this justice, so I will try to circle back to your full comments and previous comments that I haven’t had the chance to discuss, but-

    If you go through this thread and search my name, you will see that I repeatedly make the point that the scientific consensus is a form of normative messaging. Yet it sounds like from your comment you think that I don’t agree? Or if that isn’t what you’re saying, I am not sure what you are getting at. Can you clarify? Thanks.

    I don’t agree that it is necessarily the same thing as an appeal to authority in the sense that I understand that phrase (but I recognize that we apparently have differing definitions).

    I believe that the normative force in scientific consensus messaging is a self-image/self-consistency force. I think that most people like to think of themselves as being pro-science and on the side of science. There are very few exceptions to this, even among people that we might assume would be happily self-identified as against science because they are in practice. I have had some mind-boggling conversations with creationists who insist that they are the true science advocates, unlike the dishonest, anti-science “evolutionists”.

    Now, WHY people like to identify as being pro-science might get into issues of authority. But I think that it’s much more nuanced than that, and suspect it has a lot more to do with things like the track record of science’s success generally, the more concrete technological advances we’ve seen since over the past century or so (whether one should discriminate here between physical science, engineering, and medicine here is I think irrelevant), and in the US perhaps the associations between patriotism/nationalism and technology that have been invoked by public and private sector alike from WWII to the present. If I had the time to pursue the psychological component of this full time, I can think of a number of ways to try to test the driver of the normative force, but I don’t. I think this would make a great PhD project for someone who was already in a relevant program.

    The “why” is less important to me at this stage of the game than the “whether”, and as I’ve said repeatedly, the latter has been answered to my satisfaction to get the ball rolling. And the weak evidence for polarization among those who would be reachable by any messaging, and strong evidence for the net positive impact of the messaging seem to me to be reason to experiment as we go rather than wait until we have every facet of the issue nailed down before employing it.

  486. miker613,
    Now you seem to be talking about people that you might regard as “alarmists”. I don’t really see what’s motivating them as being that they like the policy implications of climate change. I just think that they’re concerned about the risks associated with climate change.

  487. afeman says:

    Gaps between what Kahan says and what he shows have cropped up before:

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2013/09/chris-mooney-was-right.html

  488. miker613 says:

    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-12-29/everything-we-dont-know-about-minimumwage-hikes
    “These problems are well known by economists. But very little of this made it into the wider public discussion. Instead, we got utterly confident, and completely conflicting, assertions about what would happen — and unsurprisingly, activists, politicians and voters simply decided to believe the prophecy that best matched what they wanted to be true.”

  489. miker613 says:

    “I just think that they’re concerned about the risks associated with climate change.” ATTP, it looks like we’re seeing the same sets of data and seeing different types of motivations. These people don’t seem to be “concerned about the risks”, they seem to know that these risks are actually certain, even the ones that the IPCC and most climate scientists think are (relatively) small. How do they make that jump? Isn’t it because they more-or-less generally think that fossil fuels are bad and renewables are good, and are therefore more susceptible to believe anything that pushes in that direction?

    If you say no, I understand. But I think then that the anti-AGW should draw more-or-less the same conclusion: for some reason they are less concerned with the risks than the IPCC and most climate scientists are.
    To me, both sound the same: sloppy science based on bias. What I (like Diogenes) would like to find is a political organization that strongly supports science that says the opposite of what that organization wants.

  490. miker613,

    But I think then that the anti-AGW should draw more-or-less the same conclusion: for some reason they are less concerned with the risks than the IPCC and most climate scientists are.

    You’re kind of suggesting something I’ve said myself a number of times. If there is any symmetry in this topic it is between those “alarmed” about the impacts of climate change, and those “alarmed” about the economic consequences of mitigating. That’s why the whole “alarmist” tag is a bit annoying.

    What I (like Diogenes) would like to find is a political organization that strongly supports science that says the opposite of what that organization wants.

    Well, I would certainly like to see a mitigation sceptic (as Victor Venema would call them) argue against doing anything without minimising the risks associated with climate change (i.e., without asserting, for example, that climate sensitivity will probably be low).

  491. miker613 says:

    “Well, I would certainly like to see a mitigation sceptic (as Victor Venema would call them) argue against doing anything without minimising the risks associated with climate change (i.e., without asserting, for example, that climate sensitivity will probably be low).” There I think you are describing Lomborg and his team exactly. They start by accepting all IPCC estimates, and go on to conclude that mitigation returns pennies on the dollar and is one of the worst deals around.

  492. miker613,

    There I think you are describing Lomborg and his team exactly. They start by accepting all IPCC estimates, and go on to conclude that mitigation returns pennies on the dollar and is one of the worst deals around.

    No, I don’t think I do. They take (as Tol has done in his recent article) damage estimates that are determined with respect to changes in temperature, assert that damages this century will be low, without recognising/acknowledging that the temperature rise could be considerably higher than those on which these damage etimates are based. So, yes, they may quote parts of the IPCC documents correctly, but I don’t think they quote them in the correct context.

  493. miker613 says:

    “without recognising/acknowledging that the temperature rise could be considerably higher than those on which these damage etimates are based” Well, that sounds like an actuarial call. I believe they use the IPCC central estimates (sensitivity=3?), but I haven’t examined their work carefully. But if (according) to them, mitigation is worth pennies on the dollar (that is, much less than one in ten), are you sure that including higher damage but lower probability scenarios would yield a fundamentally different conclusion? (Especially if you also include the corresponding lower damage lower probability scenarios as well.)
    I really had thought that their disagreement with other economists like Nordhaus was not on the amount of damage but on the costs and benefits of mitigating it. Economics is far from an exact science. I think Dyson already pointed out that even though Nordhaus shows definite benefits from Moderate Mitigation, Do Nothing is far better than Severe Mitigation according to his model and not much worse than Moderate Mitigation. You really have to include catastrophic scenarios to justify severe mitigation in these models, exactly what the IPCC tends to call very unlikely.

  494. miker613,

    I believe they use the IPCC central estimates (sensitivity=3?), but I haven’t examined their work carefully.

    Well, if you consider Tol’s latest article that says In other words, a century worth of climate change is about as bad as losing a year of economic growth (and he means by 2075) then this is only consistent with the damage estimates if we warm by about 1oC. If you consider the RCP pathways, then RCP8.5 suggests we’ll warm by 2.5 – 3.5oC, RCP6.0 suggests about 1.5 – 2.5oC, and RCP4.5 suggests 1 – 2oC (all relative to today). So, this claim (which is used by Tol and by Lomborg) is only consistent with the evidence if we follow a low emission pathway (which requires substantial mitigation) or if climate sensitivity is really low (outside the 95% confidence interval).

    But if (according) to them, mitigation is worth pennies on the dollar (that is, much less than one in ten), are you sure that including higher damage but lower probability scenarios would yield a fundamentally different conclusion?

    Did you mean mitigation here?

    I think Dyson already pointed out that even though Nordhaus shows definite benefits from Moderate Mitigation, Do Nothing is far better than Severe Mitigation according to his model and not much worse than Moderate Mitigation.

    I don’t think this is correct. The latest IPCC report suggested that Ambitious mitigation would probably reduce economic growth by less than 0.1% (i.e., instead of growing at 2% pa, it would be 1.9%). I’m not sure I believe these numbers, but then I don’t really believe the damage estimates either. They are, however, all we have.

  495. miker613 says:

    ATTP, I don’t think you’re right. According to the Wikipedia article on Copenhagen Consensus, Richard Tol is not one of their expert panel of economists. Lomborg may quote him, but that’s an independent thing from his CC Project.
    The CC Project website seems to be down, so I can’t get details, but the Wikipedia page seemed pretty clear: they use standard IPCC estimates for the climate science, and then there is considerable controversy over various economic actuarial choices they made, such as discount rate. In other words, they aren’t using IPCC estimates for the economics; they have their own economists (four with Nobel Prizes).

    Here are references to Nordhaus vs. Dyson from a few years ago
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/jun/12/the-question-of-global-warming/
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/sep/25/the-question-of-global-warming-an-exchange/
    It seems to me that Dyson says exactly as I described in the first link – and that Nordhaus essentially agrees with him in the second. I’m ignoring Dyson’s interesting stuff about geoengineering.

    I’m assuming that few of us commenting on this blog are economists. Given that there is a manifest lack of consensus on the economics – IPCC vs Nordhaus vs at least four Nobel Prize-winning economists – how are people choosing sides? For any of us who aren’t studying macro-economics and working through the math of the papers, do you not think that we are likely to pick sides based on our overall policy preferences? How else shall we do it?

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